General / Weekend News

Transportation Master Plan targets priorities

By Aaron Humes, Freelance Reporter

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Public Utilities, along with other Ministries, has engaged researchers of the Korea Development Institute, a division of the Korean Government, to investigate Belize’s transportation deficiencies and how best to fix them. The National Transportation Master Plan, introduced on Friday, is expected to come on stream over the next two years and will guide Belize’s approach to moving people around on air, land, and sea.

Researcher Jung Wook Kim said that at this initial stage, the group, which has been to Belize several times, is gathering data and feeding it into their models in Korea, from which they expect to glean recommendations for improvement of Belize’s transportation network.

Already, said Minister of Energy, Senator Joy Grant, several priority roads have been targeted for improvement: the Coastal Road from La Democracia to the junction with the Hummingbird Highway near Mullins River; the road to the Caracol Maya site in western Cayo, and the road to Altun Ha in the Belize District.

Minister Grant says these are being looked at for development of tourism, as Altun Ha and Caracol are the most-visited Belizean Maya sites, while the Coastal Road has been identified as an alternate route for movement of goods and services as well as visitors to the South, specifically Placencia.
Additionally, consideration is being given to re-develop the Commerce Bight Port near Dangriga. Plans for this are to support the expansion of sugar production. The American Sugar Refinery (ASR), Grant said, is reportedly considering using that port for its sugar shipments rather than Belize City.

These, she explained, are examples of identifying urgent priorities in transportation, though she noted that there are several other factors including finance. In the case of Caracol, that road is longer and thus more expensive to build.

The Minister also noted the importance of building to defeat climate change, saying that costs go up depending on how builders address issues such as possible flooding, damage from severe storms and hurricanes, among other weather factors.

Meanwhile, the visiting Koreans have also looked at the situation of bus transport in Belize, but any short-term fixes are the decision of the Ministry of Transport.

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