Department of the Environment Donates Weed Cutters to Ministry of Infrastructure for Highway Maintenance

Department of the Environment Donates Weed Cutters to Ministry of Infrastructure for Highway Maintenance

The Department of the Environment donated fifteen weed cutters to the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing (IDH) today, to support the work of keeping the highways clean. The weed cutters were handed over at a ceremony this morning in Belmopan. At the ceremony, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, Orlando Habet, said that the equipment supports the ongoing collaboration between the two ministries. Habet said that various other initiatives are being looked at, including imposing community service on those who are caught littering.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development: “And now with these 15-weed cutters at the value of close to $18,000 really the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing has a very good program in cleaning up the highways and we want to show our appreciation and collaboration with that project and also to strengthen the project and program that we have with the Department of Environment to do these clean up campaigns but also to have a civic pride campaign initiative which we want to spread throughout the rest of the country. So in recent months you will see some expenditures on advertisements, placards and billboards and reaching out to the schools through education programs and one of the things that we want to do is not only to have that information and education campaign but also to have the complement doing the monitoring through an enforcement unit because if you don’t have the enforcement to go along with it then it will not be successful. So we are partnering with the Traffic Department, with the municipalities for training and also to empower them to be able to issue tickets for fines and was speaking to the Chief Environmental Officer that we can also have some conversation with the magistracy so that when somebody is caught littering, instead of just giving a fine, possibly to ask them to have a community service program where they will be, instead of a fine they will have to do community service. In San Ignacio, for example, we have a vibrant Saturday market. Imagine the culprit is caught and then he or she has to do community service, picking up garbage in the market in front of thousands of people. So this is the way we have to go. Littering is a real problem. You cannot be that we continue to have the Ministry of Infrastructure cleaning up the highways and you see the garbage bags that are filled up and right in between you see plastic bottles already thrown away five or 10 minutes after. We have some serious problems with these hot spots where people just go and dump truckloads, pick up loads of garbage. And it’s not only garbage, you also have dead animals that are thrown away sometimes on the sides of the road. All these things have to happen. We have to have this civic pride.”

Evondale Moody, Chief Engineer for the MIDH said that the problem of garbage dumping is a major problem for the Ministry and called on Belizeans to refrain from throwing garbage from their vehicles.

Evondale Moody, Engineering Coordinator, MIDH: “It will surely go a long way in assisting us in our road maintenance unit that we have implementing routine and periodic maintenance across the entire country. We have been doing an intense amount of work on all our main highways and we’ve also been assisting in areas where you have the hot spots that the minister has alluded to in cleaning up those areas as well. What we’ve found out is that over the years in doing the road maintenance that as soon as we start picking up the garbage, there continuously have been people distributing garbage again throwing them through the vehicles. And so when we pick up a hundred bags in a day the following two weeks we have another hundred and fifty bags to pick up. And so with the assistance of DOE we were able to get some garbage bags and safety vests as well last year, which we are very appreciative of. But this continuously becomes a problem for us in the road maintenance, which we have to execute on a regular basis. And so we would just like to appeal to the public to have some civic pride in keeping your garbage in your trucks or keeping your garbage in your cars and disposing of them when you reach home because yes we’re there to maintain the highway but we cannot continuously be picking up garbage all over the main highways that we have.”

Last year the Ministry of Sustainable Development also donated twenty-thousand dollars’ worth of materials to support highway cleaning efforts./////

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