Ten weeks ago we brought you the story of the portion of the George Price Highway at mile thirty eight that broke apart due to rains and flooding. The culvert was damaged and for over twenty four hours Belmopan residents beyond this point had no direct access to the old capital. A temporary fix was carried out to restore access but up to now it is still just a bandaid on a situation that could come apart again if pressured. As a matter of fact, concerns mounted last week when indications were that Belize would experience rainy weather due to what was then, Tropical Depression Fourteen. It appears, however, that some works are being done behind the scenes which is what the Senior Engineer at the Ministry of Works, Irving Thimbriel, told us when we interviewed him earlier this week.
Irving Thimbriel, Senior Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works: “We are doing some designs and the culverts that you currently see stacked on the side those will be used for the temporary crossing but the permanent crossing will be three 12×12 reinforced concrete rectangular tubes that will provide much more than what was there hydraulic capacity for the crossing. We can assure you that what is there it has to be something very extraordinary to wash away what is there. You were there and you saw the size of boulders that were placed in there and the water has space in between that it allows the free passage of water. It’s like an elaborate French drain that you have there it’s going to be very difficult for that to be washed away and in respect to timeline we don’t really want to give you a timeline because of the things we’re faced with right now. We have COVID-19 we have the storms that can come and all those things can disrupt what we’re doing but we can assure you that we’re working as we speak that things are happening and as soon as we’re able to we’re going to replace what is currently there. We’re working, we’re building the forms, it still has to take a process and you will see versus something that is done there on site what we’re doing is prefab recast and as soon as we finish those it’s not going to take us a week to get those installed. So we want the public to rest assured that we are doing something and not because you’re not seeing something happening out there nothing is happening. We also want them to know that we go periodically what is out there and we are ensuring that what is out there is safe for the public to pass. This is not the first time that we’ve had circumstances like this the Ministry of Works has effectively dealt with situations like these any times in the past so we need to give you that assurance that we know what we are doing.”
Last week our newsteam visited Belmopan where majority of the commuters are located. We spoke with some of them including bus drivers to see just how concerned they were over the incomplete works at mile thirty eight. The following interview was originally aired less than a week ago.
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.
Our newsroom has been following the developments pertaining to this situation as well as the portion of the highway near Galen University that also sustained major damages in the June 18 flood.