The government will completely finance the building of a new $30 million multi purpose complex on the site of the Belize City Center, Prime Minster Hon. Dean Barrow announced in his Independence Day address to the nation
Some 90 workmen working in 10 crews began taking down the mostly steel structure on Monday morning, September 23.
The men were mostly from disadvantaged neighborhoods of Belize City’s south side employed by CISCO Construction, who came in with the lowest bid and won the contract to dismantle the old structure.
CISCO manager Francis Woods said their bid was slightly over $1 million, and his men were working so fast that the work might be completed even earlier than the five months he had originally estimated. He said the work had to be done by hand, because they wish to use most of the pre-fabricated steel structure, all the I-beams and girders, to build a similar sized building at the Marion Jones sports complex.
The workmen had the help of two large cranes, as care had to taken in removing the outside steel sheeting of the walls, for workplace safety, to avoid accidents of any pieces falling on the workmen. All wore hard hats, as some were working with sledgehammers to break down the concrete wall partitions of the ground floor offices beneath the Civic Center. The rest of the structure is being dismantled from the roof going down.
All the reusable parts of the wooden basketball court and the bleachers were dismantled and taken to the Marion Jones Stadium. Other work crews were also wielding sledgehammers to break down the concrete flooring of the broadcast booth above and to the rear of the bleachers.
Project manger is civil engineer Reina Gonzalez, but the workmen seemed not to mind that their boss is a woman. In fact they seemed to pound even harder for her; after she explained how they were to go about their work and the safety issues to be aware of to avoid accidents.
For Gonzalez herself she said she was totally at home in a male-dominated field. If anything her family background with her father and brothers had made her even more eager to rise to the challenge.
When it was first determined that the supporting beams of the Civic Center were structurally unsafe and the building was condemned, Mexico’s former President Felipe Calderon had offered to build a replacement facility.
Since GOB is entirely financing the new facility to be built by Belize Infrastructure Limited, Prime Minister Barrow is now in dialogue with Mexico’s new President Piña Nieto for funding to build an Olympic size swimming pool and a volleyball facility at the Marion Jones Stadium.
Belize Infrastructure Limited, the special purpose vehicle chartered and owned by Government, will build the new Civic Center at a cost of some $30 million with funding the government will obtain through the Petrocaribe agreement, under which Belize has access to about US$0 million in financing, from delayed payments on Belize’s fuel purchase from Venezuela.
P.M. Barrow said the BIL will also oversee the spending of $40 million dollars more for community development, and in building a sporting facility in each town of all six districts in the country.
GOB will supplement its Petrocaribe funds by issuing Treasury Notes for domestic borrowing, taking advantage of excess liquidity in the banking system and interest rates.
Although BIL is a government entity, both the National Trade Union Congress of Belize and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and industry have seats on BIL’s Board of Directors