City Mayor halts drainage project

Belize City mayor Darrel Bradley threw a monkey wrench into the works of a $941,316 infrastructure project to install  drainage in the Buttonwood Bay suburb north of Belize City where nearly 2,000 people live.

Caribbean Shores area representative, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Santiago Castillo, officially launched the project in a brief ceremony at the Canaan Seventh Day Adventist High School on Monday evening, April 22; and the plan was for the project to be completed before the onset of the hurricane season and its often torrential rains.

One of the first streets dug up on Monday was Buttonwood Bay Boulevard, which the City Council plans to pave as part of its project to cement pave 100 streets, but other streets dug up in Buttonwood Bay are not part of the City Council plan. They were perfectly paved with no potholes, and Bradley says he wants assurances from Belize Water Services Limited and Medina’s Construction, which is doing the drainage contract, that the streets will be restored to their original condition after the drainage and other works are completed.

Bradley’s concern sounds legitimate enough, except that it seems out of synch with Bradley’s decisions and priorities in other parts of the city.

The project has already passed the halfway mark with over 60 streets already cement-paved, but Bradley’s grand scheme to cement pave the 100 streets has often appeared uncoordinated.

On Monday, Bradley told downtown taxi operators they could park on Church Street, to pacify their ruffled feathers that they had been left out of the loop when it came to being informed about the development works at Battlefield Park which began Monday.

By Tuesday, Church Street was unavailable to the taxi drivers and all motorists as the utility companies were digging up the street to install all their pipe-works and cables, in preparation for the street to be cement-paved.

Residents of Baymen Avenue have voiced the same objection that Bradley said about the Buttonwood Bay streets: Baymen Avenue was in perfectly good condition and needed no paving!

But it’s been impassable for over a week now, as the utility companies dug it up to do their works, in preparation for it to be cement paved.

A short section of Kelly Street, from Simon Lamb Street to Chon Saan Palace restaurant owned by Freetown caretaker representative Lee Mark Chan, was one of the first to be cement-paved, but the rest of the street has yet to be completed, not even the section to connect it to Baymen Avenue, nor the L-shaped section of Kelly Street which passes the Caribbean Shores drop-in computer center opened by Minister Castillo last year.

Political observers have speculated there may be a political power play behind these moves, because it’s also been rumored that Bradley may toss his hat into the ring to contest the next convention to choose a standard bearer for Caribbean Shores.

Bradley’s name has also been linked to the Freetown Division. Those conventions are still more than year off, so we’ve yet to see which way the cat will jump.

The Social Investment Fund is implementing the Buttonwood Bay project, in collaboration with Belize Water Services Limited; and the Government of Belize is financing the drainage works through a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.

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