Call for infrastural renewal in Belize

I was born and raised in Dangriga Town 56 years ago on Sawai Street and grew up with Punta Rock Stars, Muhubub and Miamie in the heart and central part of the town.

Since my birth, I can never remember seeing this street being fixed and paved. Before I was born, my mother and all her siblings grew up in the same yard and the street was still in the same condition up to the time of her death at the age of 79. With this type of track record, there is a strong possibility that I will be dead and gone and Sawai Street will still remain in the same condition.

UDP and PUP municipal governments have administrated my town but yet nothing has changed. There are many other people like me in Dangriga Town and throughout other villages, towns and cities in the country of Belize, who can confirm that the same thing is happening with the streets in the communities where they live or once lived.

As a developing country, it is now time for us to engage in constructive sustainable development and planning for all of the streets, roads, highways and bridges in our villages, towns and cities. Belize City and Belmopan City have always had most of their streets paved when I was growing up in Belize. Travelling throughout the other parts of the country, I have seen a vast improvement of the streets in the northern districts compared to the deep south Stann Creek and Toledo Districts.

During my childhood, the Belize government had a Public Works Department that was responsible for the construction of all streets, roads, highways and bridges. This department had all the necessary equipments and the tools to get the job done. They also controlled the quarries and the sandpits to get the stones, sand and all the materials to build the streets and the roads.

Years ago, the government decided to downsize this department along with other departments and contract out their departmental duties to private contractors through a bidding process. Since then, it is costing the government more money to fulfill their obligation in getting the streets, roads, highways and bridges constructed.

Today, many Belizeans believe that it was a bad decision to downsize these governmental departments and hand over their responsibilities to private contractors. In some cases, the government and taxpayers are not getting their monies worth but friends of the party in government are getting paid for incomplete and faulty projects. Some of the streets, roads and highways fall apart shortly after they were constructed and have to be rebuilt again for more money at a financial loss to the taxpayers and government.

When the town is expanded, the streets in the expansion part of Dangriga Town would be paved while the older streets in the heart of the town would remain in the same condition. If the Town Boards had committed themselves to pave five streets every year in the heart of the town since the streets were first built, all the streets in the heart of all the towns in the country of Belize could have been paved by now. This is considered effective sustainable planning and development for the future of our villages, towns and cities. I am certain that there is a town planner for all the towns and a city planner for the cities likewise. However, the country might not have the resources to implement all their plans and when the government changes, the plan is thrown away. Continuity is needed by governments to have long term sustainable growth and development take place.

In Dangriga the UDP government started a sport complex in Lakeland for the children but when the UDP lost the election the PUP did not continue the project and the foundation is still there behind the BDF compound in bushes. There are several projects we can find like this throughout Dangriga Town and other parts of the country. Both political parties have been accusing each other of doing the same thing when they get into office playing the blame game. Dangriga is currently in need of a land development program to be backed up by a housing program for people who are in need of housing. If the people in Dangriga Town cannot afford it, they all have relatives in the United States who can definitely afford it because they all own land. We should develop all lands and subdivide them with the necessary infrastructural ingredients in place before we issue lots to our citizens. Giving our people swamp lands and have them find the resources to make them convenient for living is shameful for any government to be engaged in. I hope and pray that beginning next year, our government will be changing the way we do business in all of our future developments to benefit every Belizean citizen.

Wellington Ramos

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