Mile 38 was the site of disaster back in mid-June when a downpour deteriorated that portion of the highway. The broken culvert had blocked the flow of traffic for over twenty four hours. That was two months ago which would seem like a reasonable amount of time for the Ministry of Works to get the highway fully repaired. Our news team took a trip to the area this morning only to find that another downpour would see history repeat itself. We tried getting an update from officials within the ministry but our requests were denied since they were dealing with a case of Covid-19 within the ministry. We did, however, speak to NEMO’s Coordinator, Sheldon Defore on the issue since it would be a major concern for them should an evacuation exercise to the west be required.
Sheldon Defore, NEMO Coordinator: “Within the NEMO pure structure we have a committee known as National Mitigation and Infrastructure Works Committee under the Ministry of Works chaired by the CEO Major Eroll Gentle and so within our network of sharing information and his committee meetings they identify the hotspots along with us, they know their hotspots that’s their area of expertise so they know that once a scenario develops where in consultation with NEMO requires evacuation that rapid road repairs and upgrade for areas of concern as you mentioned would be given full attention and so I am not too worried. We know of that particular washout obviously because NEMO is well in the mix with what’s happening. We know that near Galen University is another area of concern and there might be a few others because the road construction is taking place so we will have to notify them early to say listen this is when we expect to transition to evacuation mode and giving them as much window opportunity as possible to do what they can do to either put diversion in place or build up the area and things like that. And we will throw our weight behind it this is the Government of Belize so resources and equipment will be brought to bear and the Government of Belize I speak in terms of public and private sector to be able to – because that is the NEMO system it has a strong public sector but also a very strong private sector component to it.”
Reporter Courtney Menzies was out in Belmopan earlier today where she spoke with residents who too are concerned over the integrity of that portion of the highway particularly since Tropical Depression Fourteen may bring heavy rains with it. Menzies spoke with a bus driver and a resident of St Matthews Village, as well as a bus conductor and a regular commuter.
Kenrick Grinage, Bus Driver/ Resident: “That bridge that washed away and they have it dumped up we know we’re going to get into problems soon as a heavy rain comes that place will wash away again because then it has no bypass it’s just the water draining through so it can’t take any kind of weather. So any kind of weather that road will go again. That road needs to actually put in the culvert or the bridge or whatever they need to do with it because it’s a dangerous thing. From the time they had just dumped it up for a little quick pass that is it. I’m on the road everyday up and down so definitely when that went down it kept me back I had to turn back and call off the day until I got through with that.
Elroy Gilharry, Bus Conductor: “I think they need to fix the road because when we pass there on the side it’s still broken up, people are rushing to pass you can’t pass then I’m watching the news and they’re talking about a weather that is coming. If the weather comes now we won’t be able to pass there it looks like that whole thing will wash away.
Reporter: So your bus travels on that road everyday?
Elroy Gilharry, Bus Conductor: Every single day, Griga Line bus every day we travel. The road broke down a good while and it’s like they’re not paying any attention to it. Traffic all kinds of things can happen right there too, we have to stop take a little long break there to reach the terminal, they lock us out any time we reach the terminal so I would really want them to fix the area.
Miquel Jones, Commuter: “Temporarily it’s just right now how it stays and apparently from this time here weather is about to come I hope when we go back to square one they could fix it again. I come every day here and work selling my products.”
Reporter: So it affected you that day because you couldn’t come to work.
Miquel Jones, Commuter:“It bypassed me in the night because I could have reached in the night over at the other side.”
Reporter: So if it breaks again then that’s your livelihood again being disrupted ?
Miquel Jones, Commuter: “Yeah. It’s my livelihood being interrupted again.”
Love News did get to speak via phone with the Central Zone Engineer at the Ministry of Works, Irving Thimbriel who indicated that they designed rectangular culverts which are currently being built. As soon as they are completed, they will be installed.