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Environmental Community Raises Concern Over Port of Magical Belize

The environmental community is angry tonight after Portico Enterprise Limited was given the green light to construct and operate Port of Magical Belize. It is a multi-million dollar cruise ship port project which will be constructed six kilometers south of the Sibun River. The developers say the project will create thousands of jobs and boost the economy but environmentalists say that it will destroy marine life and resources. Hipolito Novelo reports.

The green light has been given to Portico Enterprise Limited to construct and operate Port of Magical Belize, a behemoth cruise ship port and resort six kilometers south of the Sibun River. 

David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Limited

David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Limited: “Coronavirus has had an impact on the project already. It has slowed this down by three to four months. However construction will take thirty months.”

Proprietor David Gegg received this letter dated April ninth, informing him that environmental clearance has been given, granting him and a consortium of local and international strategic investors who own Portico Enterprise Limited the go head to build what you are seeing in this video. And it’s all about location, location, location. 

David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Limited: “Our location is just south of One Man Caye Channel and we think that location is where the industry can grow and where Belize can maximize the benefits from cruise tourism. So we’re focusing on what we think we need to do and we think we’re in the right location and that’s all that really matters to us.”

According to the Environmental Impact Assessment, the multi-million dollar, mammoth of a development consists of dredging of a navigational channel, reclamation of land from dredged materials, construction and operation of a cruise terminal, piers, and infrastructure including shops, restaurants, cabanas etcetera. 

David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Limited: “The project in its maximum capacity would be three piers that would accommodate six ships. Initially we had two piers designed, four ships and the plan would be to add a third pier that would then allow us to accommodate a total of six ships but there’s never been any thought of accommodating eight ships. So please I’d like to make that clear we realize what would be a capacity issue as well and I don’t’ see it as that being an issue in the next ten, fifteen years.”

According to Portico Enterprise, the development is economically viable, and its location is strategic which would then significantly boost the tourism industry. 

David Gegg, Proprietor, Portico Enterprise Limited: “We think it is. We think it’s a fine piece of work and we think it’s the standard by which all other EIAs will be judged.”

But after this decision, DOE and by extension the Briceno Administration are being judged by the environmental community. Before the environmental clearance was given, several environmental organizations wrote to CEO Kenrick Williams who chairs the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, objecting to this massive construction and the Waterloo Port project. The environmental community believes these projects spell disaster for marine life and resources. 

Lisa Carne, Executive Director, Fragments of Hope

Lisa Carne, Executive Director, Fragments of Hope: “It’s not a disputed fact that dredging stirs up long buried contaminates. Dredging has been shown that it can pull up contaminates and can lead to not only physically smothering of corals and other organisms.”

Janelle Chanona, VP, Oceana Belize

Janelle Chanona, VP, Oceana Belize: “If they begin it’s very hard to get things back into the tube and mitigate the damage done so this is really us trying to fend off yet another what would be devastating attack on resources and everybody that depends on it in the name of something that is not justifiable.”

Port of Magical Belize is expected to officially open in 2023. Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo.