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San Benito Poite residents build their own bridge

Residents of San Benito Poite have taken on a project that will see a second bridge built to provide access to and from the village. Love News understands that for many years the community residents have had to face several challenges commuting to and from their homes because a section of the road leading to the village is constantly flooded. We note that there is a bridge that spans over the Poite River that leads to the village. This was built years ago and that project also saw the installation of culverts. However, we are told that the river water soon began seeping over onto land and settled on a section of the road just before reaching the bridge. This has caused many inconveniences to residents and visitors since the road becomes flooded in the rainy season. Toledo West Area Representative Oscar Requena says that the community leaders have reached out countless times to the Ministry of Works but government has not addressed the matter to date. Following the long wait, the community leaders decided to take on the project and have begun work with the help of the area representative, missionaries, and the village residents.

Oscar Requena, Toledo West Area Representative: “Last year the work was expected to begin but you know again with back and forth with the Ministry of Works because they were saying that you have to get the engineers to approve it, you can’t do anything on your own. The entire dry weather finished and no work was carried out so this year they started lobbying early with the Ministry of Works from as early as February and then you know again they met the same situation where they were saying oh you have to get approval from the engineers. I personally spoke to the District Technical Supervisor Mr. Guerra and asked him for his support and said to him we would appreciate if he would go in and you know see how they can support the community. The community kept on waiting and you know how the bureaucracy goes and finally the community had several meetings and they decided that they would start the bridge and that is what they have done. I have been providing support to them and you know last week Monday they started the process, in fact this week Monday they started the process. They done all the steel work on Tuesday you know they cast all the foundation over 200 sacks of cement went in to the foundation you know they are now going to wait for the concrete to dry you know to cure and they are expecting within the next 25 to 30 days they will begin phase 2 which is actually you know getting the logs, you know the logs over the bridge so they can be cured and that is what we are working. What I want to say is that I am very grateful, I am very thankful that you know the community has been able to come together in the face of all the challenges that they are facing and they recognize that is something that is going to benefit them, their community and they are not going to sit around and wait; if the government does not respond they have taken it up in their own hands together with the community. I want to make it absolutely clear that each family contributed financially to this project.”

On the matter of safety, Requena says that while the Ministry’s engineers never made it to the area to assess the project, he has spoken with representatives of the Ministry on the issue.

Oscar Requena, Toledo West Area Representative: “I understand that Mr. Guerra went into the area; I don’t know what observations were made? What assessment was done? but what I can tell you is that on Tuesday I spoke to the chief engineer you know and I did mention to him because he was calling me regarding another matter concerning road and I said to him this is the situation and he said you know well Mr. Requena we do have concerns about safety and that kind of thing. I said sir we fully understand that, I fully appreciate the issues that you have but at the same time the community has been waiting. This is the second year and they are getting any response in terms of getting the go ahead so they have decided to start on their own and he said you know I can also understand and appreciate the urgency and basically said to me we have plans to work on that area but finance is an issue; we will try to see what we can do this year but you know but there was not guarantee and basically said as long as you know the community takes into account the safety issue that you know he did welcome the initiative of the community.”

Requena says they hope to complete the bridge before the rainy season begins this year.