The once unpleasant-looking, pungent-smelling dump site at mile three off the George Price Highway that bordered the Caribbean Sea and the Port Loyola community, and that once posed a serious health hazard and fire threat to residents in the Collet, Port Loyola and Lake Independence divisions has now been transformed into a modern-day garbage transfer station for Belize City.
Built at a cost of $1.4 million, it is one of several that has been constructed in different sections of the country under the national Solid Waste Management Project. The work entailed compacting all the refuse that once made it an unsightly place, where vultures lived and illnesses seemed inevitable in the buffer areas. It has several different sections where different types of recyclable garbage will be sorted and extracted before unusable waste is loaded into 40-foot containers and transported to the centrally-located dump site at mile 24 on the George Price Highway.
The way it will work when it becomes fully operational in the next week or so is, when the garbage collection trucks take residential and companies’ garbage to the facility, it drops it on the floor, where the people who “scavenge” for a living, will sort out paper from plastic.
What’s left will be lifted into a hopper and dumped outside into the waiting container to be carted off. The recyclable material will be resold in the same fashion as before by those who make a living off it.
Their working conditions have also now been improved significantly because they will be given sanitary gloves and masks, and will be provided with shower stalls to refresh themselves before leaving for home. The new facility now has, in addition to the male and female shower stalls, an administrative building, equipped with a reception area, staff offices, a kitchenette, and a meeting room, and lockers for those needing to store their personal effects while they work.
The new project places Belize ahead of a number of other countries in Central America and the Caribbean where garbage is still dispensed in the old-fashioned way, which is unsanitary and unsightly. With four to five trips being made each day from Belize City to mile 27, it is estimated that Belize City alone will be producing up to 100 tonnes of garbage per day. The Government of Belize will pay the company contracted to carry out the project, PASA Belize Limited, led by its parent company, PASA of Monterrey, Mexico. To sustain the project, it is expected that the Belize City Council’s proposed $10 a month garbage fee will be tacked onto families’ water bill.
Meanwhile, the plan by the Belize City Council, whose responsibility is garbage collection within city limits, is to eventually close down the adjacent dump site that was opened to accommodate for garbage disposal when the one at mile three was no longer usable. Its plan, according to Sanitation Councillor, Dion Leslie, is to transform that site into an open green space for City residents.