The Maskal Road otherwise known as the Old Northern Highway has undergone major rehabilitation with a five mile stretch of newly paved road. It is the first phase of an ongoing project to completely cover the 20 mile road with hot mix pavement. The initiative comes through the Minister of State, Edmund Castro, who is also the Area Representative for Belize Rural North. Castro says work on the road is overdue.
“The residents in my area and most of all, I traverse this road every day and I know the condition that this road was in. We have not had pavements on this road for some, maybe 20 or 30 or 40 years and the pavement that we are doing now with this hot mix had never been done before. So, I think it’s a great milestone, it’s a great achievement on behalf of the residents of Belize Rural North especially those who have to traverse the road to Maskall, Altun Ha and so on any given day when the tourism is at its peak we would sometimes see 30,40 up to 50 buses on this highway with some of the edges along the road which were seven to twelve inches drop. It was very devastating for our small vehicular traffic, the people who used to traverse especially the farmers are very happy to have had the improvement on the road. We have those from the tourism industry it was almost next to impossible for someone with a small car to take tour into Altun Ha because the condition was so bad and now we have more and we will continue to see more traffic in our road because of the great improvement that we were able to achieve through PetroCaribe and the Government of Belize.”
Castro said the improved road conditions will benefit residents of the area as well as the tourism industry.
“I think this type of pavement, we have never received; so, in 40 or 50 years we had never received such a nice road. Another 30 to 40 years, this road will be here when I am gone some 50 years from now this road will still be in good condition the way we are building it with the hot mix. What we are doing, it is 20 miles to Maskall, we are trying to do it in phases. We do not have the money to do the entire 20 miles all at once; so, we are doing it in different phases. The first phase was five miles which we are here to inaugurate – the completion of the first five miles and we have already begun another seven miles which will take us close to King’s College. So, one more phase from there and we will be just about where Maruba and I think I will continue to lobby so that we could at least reach by Maruba which will be a great plus not only for the farmers but also for the tourism industry and so on. So, the residents of Maskall and the old roads and the nine villages are very happy and you will see that they will return their Area Representative one more time to represent them.”
The guest speaker at this morning’s ceremony was Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Anthony ‘boots’ Martinez.
“Well this has been an initiative of Minister Castro for years from I was Minister of Works he was my deputy and it was a project that we have been pushing from a long time ago – a well-deserved project especially for the residents of the old road and also for the tourism sector because you know Altun Ha is right up the street. It is very important and I think the time has come that we supported him in Cabinet to at least get the first five miles.”
Work on an additional seven miles continues.