San Pedro Port scheduled for completion

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 15, No. 36            September 8, 2005

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Representatives from the Belize Port Authority announced plans to complete the San Pedro Port located on the Southwest corner of Ambergris Caye. The Port has been partially completed for over a year, yet barges and other vessels refuse to use the new location claiming the channel to reach the port is too shallow. So far, over three million dollars have been spent on the port. It is estimated it will cost a million dollars more to complete the project.

    Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones and Chairman of Ports Authority, Fred Hunter Sr. were the guest speakers at the Ambergris Caye Chamber of Commerce meeting last Thursday. During the meeting, they answered questions and shared plans to make the port operational.

    Major Jones explained that the completion of the San Pedro Port will be conducted in four phases. The first phase, which is scheduled to begin in four months, will include making the channel deeper and wider in order to allow barges access to the port. The dock will be expanded and a 3,200 square foot Port Authority administration building will be constructed. It will also include the creation of an industrial park that will consist of one and two acre sites and another area to store hundreds of containers and other materials.

    When this phase is completed, barges that are currently using the area on the east side of the island in the middle of San Pedro Town will be required to use the new port. Major Jones said he will be meeting with barge operators on September 19th to discuss the fees and logistics for using the new port.

    The second phase of the new port will be completed approximately three months after the completion of phase one. At this time the port should be prepared to handle all barges and the Port Authority will make it illegal for any barges to unload on the front of the island. This will not affect those barges that deliver to construction sites which are on the north side of the island that are only accessible by sea. However, the size of the barges that deliver to the north side will be limited to the smallest barges.

    Phases three and four are enhancements of the first phases including expanding the marina and adding additional sites in the industrial park. Eventually, pre-fabricated buildings will be available to lease.

    Revenues from the industrial park will help pay for the project. Mr Fred Hunter Sr. explained that they are planning to have storage facilities that will provide service around the clock located at the port. These storage facilities should cost about $600 a month. Dangerous chemicals can be stored as well as anything else. There will also be a marina and dock yard to store and repair boats. He added that this location will be well lit and have security.

    Eventually, there will be a customs office at this port that should make things much easier for local residents to have items shipped directly to the island and be able to pay there duty and avoid trips to Belize City.

    Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones is in charge of the supervision of all six ports in Belize which includes their safety and protection. He also deals with environmental issues but that most of those issues must go through the Department of the Environment.

Maritime 999 Activated

    The National Maritime Communication Center has been activated and any distress calls can made to phone number 999 all day, every day, stated Ports Commissioner Major Lloyd Jones to the Ambergergris Caye Chamber of Commerce on last Thursday's meeting. He said his office is using Maritime Search and Rescue and marine radios and are listening all day on the distress channel # 16. There will be a Ports Authority Office set up at this port as well. The Ports Authority licenses shipping agents and are capable of dealing with any shipping problems.
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