The Belize City Council plans to launch a $20 million bond to finance the infrastructure works it has planned for the city, Mayor Darrel Bradley announced at his second press conference at City Hall on Tuesday, June 12, which also marked 100 days since the Belize City Council took office.
Bradley also took the opportunity to present the Council’s report card on how much it had accomplished of its 100-day plan for a cleaner city, with better infrastructure and a better quality of life, achieved by delivering value for money. In this regard CitCo got a B or 82% on achieving the goals of its to-do-list which Bradley had presented at his first press conference at City Hall on Wednesday, April 11.
The Council had planned to acquire a roller, grader, back-hoe and other equipment to implement a $1 million street improvement program. Bradley pointed to the roller and back-hoe procured, which were right outside.
The council had also planned to cut spending, but proved to be easier said than done. In fact it borrowed $1 million, and infrastructure works executed with those funds are impressive and ongoing. South Street from Wesley school to BTB headquarters has been cemented, as have portions of Orange Street and Calle del Mar Street, and these streets will be cemented along their entire length. Daly Street, Thomas Vincent Ramos Street, Ferry Lane, and Belize Bank Street are also being cemented, as is Puma Street, between the Esso service station on the Northern Highway and an open lot.
Holy Emmanuel Street which is the main street in the “gun-gu-lung” area is also being paved, to be completed in the next two weeks. And while the first $1 million borrowed took care of those streets, Bradley announced that Citco would be borrowing another $1 million to fix another 13 streets.
City residents had indicated the concern about garbage disposal from before the elections, and while Bradley had promised a cleaner city, he now proposed that residents foot the cost with a $10 per household monthly garbage collection fee.
As to the $20 million bond, Bradley would like for the first tranche of the bond – $8 million to be released in July, to be used to fix the main streets on Belize City’s north side: Freetown Road, Barrack Road, Hyde’s Lane, Queen Street, North Front Street, New Road and Douglas Jones Street. The paln also includes the commercial district on the south side with the streets feeding off Albert Street, as well as sections of Vernon Street, Fabers Road and streets in Lake Independence, Port Loyola and the Collet area.
The second $8 million tranche would be used to upgrade other major streets like Baymen Avenue and Princess Margaret Drive, and the last tranche of the bond would be a revenue component, such as a toll booth at a well-developed entrance to the city. The ides would be for the revenue from the tolls to repay part of the bond.
Bradley insists that Belize City should paddle its own canoe with a level of municipal autonomy, that means it will not apply to the Central Government to guarantee the bond. Bradley said that if property owners pay their fair share by paying their taxes, this should take care of the first tranche of the bond within a five year period.
One of Citco’s success stories is that it surpassed its target for a 20% in collection of traffic revenues. City traffic officers have been out in full force enforcing the traffic regulations, and Bradley held to his original promise that traffic tickets would no longer be written off and anyone found to be continuing this practice would be sent home.
The law governing opening hours for nightclubs will also be rigidly enforced, Bradley promised. Nightclubs are required to close at 2:00 am but some can apply for and get extensions to open until 4:00am, which by rights should only be in special circumstances, but it has become a regular practice. No more, said Bradley, because two recent shootings in the pas fortnight happened outside nightclubs shortly after they had closed at 4:00am.
Bradley had also proposed to address the situation of indigent people living on the streets by relocating them to the Kolbe foundation, but this plan proved politically unpopular, and Cabinet came out against it. Bradley has indicated it’s still on his to-do list, but for the moment, it’s on hold.
And since a breakdown in individual discipline may a root cause to the rise in crime; as it’s not a far step from scoff-law to outlaw, Bradley also indicated that the council will follow though with enforcing traffic regulations particularly for bicycles, requiring bells, and lights for riding at night. Scofflaw who insist on riding against the flow of traffic will be first warned then fined, and could end up losing their bicycles. Bradley’s plan to reintroduce the licnesing of bicycles remains on the drawing board for now.