Two loans, $80 Million later, New Haulover bridge still not done

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

The Government of Belize, this week, passed a motion for a $24 million loan to upgrade the Haulover Bridge, even though it had already gotten a $60 million loan in 2014 for the same purpose.

Both loans, as is the case with all other public works, will fall on the shoulders of tax payers to repay, however, despite requests for a clarification from government as to why another loan for the same project is necessary, GOB has provided very little answers.

The Government of Belize had taken a $60 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in 2014 for works which included the upgrade of the Haulover Bridge. Three years later no such work has been completed and this week, GOB approved a new loan for US $12 million from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund for International Development.
The Senate approved the loan motion on Wednesday, despite concerns raised by the Opposition and social partner senators. Senator Mark Lizarraga and Senator Eamon Courtenay pointed out that the $60 million CDB loan exists and had already considered climate resiliency as a factor in the construction in the project amount.

GOB is also seeking the OPEC funds before the final date of disbursement for the CDB funds, which was scheduled for December 2018.
Government Senator, Carla Barnett, explained that the additional funds became necessary, because the project ended up costing more than they had originally budgeted for.

“The reality is that we are building roads in areas that have been traditionally river delta, wet lands, under mangrove, all that implies additional costs. The original estimate for the bridge, the original funds allocated for the bridge did not have designs, at the time the loan was being considered,” Barnett explained.

Senator Michael Peyrefitte added that the public should be glad that GOB has managed to secure the funds at low interest rates.
The new loan is to replace the current Haulover Bridge with a structure that is 140 meters long and 20 meters wide with side walk on each side. Leader of Government Business, Senator Godwin Hulse was unable to say how many lanes the new bridge would have. The loan will also cover land acquisition, consultancy services, and supervision.

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