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Jun 19, 2014

Tower Hill airstrip to get a facelift

As we told you earlier, work will soon begin on the rehabilitation of an old dirt runway that will become a modern airstrip to accommodate domestic flights to the Orange Walk District. The project is costing seven hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars. The new players of the Belize Airports Authority were along with Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation when the groundbreaking ceremony was held. Duane Moody was also on hand and has this report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

There is a legitimate airstrip in the Orange Walk District; not a clandestine runway used in the commission of transnational crimes. The Tower Hill Airstrip is located about half a mile from the junction to the B.S.I. Factory on the Phillip Goldson Highway. The dirt runway is already in use for domestic flights from Belize City and San Pedro particularly via Tropic Air. The runway, however, will be getting a much needed facelift.

 

Manuel Heredia Jr.

Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Aviation

“We said we had to take immediate steps that we do a first class airstrip as envisioned in the master plan that we have for all the airstrips in this country. And the board met and then consulted with me. First it was going to be chip and seal and it was going to cost around four hundred and sixty-seven thousand. But I always believe that San Pedro has been done hot mix, Corozal had been done hot mix, Dangriga had been done hot mix; and then I don’t want anybody o believe that other destinations are important that the others. So I spoke with my board and said man let us go ahead and if we have the finances, let us do hot mix and I was informed early this week that yes we have the finances, so we will be investing seven hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars to do a hot mix airstrip that will be first class and the safety of the tourists and residents will be much better.”

 

The rehabilitation of the airstrip will see the runway, raised approximately fourteen inches above its current level. A task that will take approximately a month to be completed says General Manager of the Belize Airports Authority, John Waight.

 

John Waight

John Waight, General Manager, Belize Airports Authority

“The airstrip in its present form is quite dangerous. When it rains, I think both Maya and Tropic; they have to abort their landing because it was quite dangerous. Now I believe that with the refurbishing, with the reconstruction of this airstrip…as I understand it, there has been an increase in tourism coming this way, north.”

 

Orange Area Rep. and Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega, was also present for the ceremonies. He spoke of the economic benefits of the quarter million dollar investment by the B.A.A.

 

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister

Gaspar Vega

“I was talking to the minister earlier, Minister of Tourism; that the growth that this runway is showing is much greater than the runway that Ranchito showed at the time or at the stage that this is. So I am certain that we will get a lot of economic benefits from it. Just Lamanai, when we have the buses parking at what used to be Gym School Pool; it is incredible. And a lot of people don’t like to come to Belize City from San Pedro then ketch bus and come to Orange Walk. So these type of tourist will start making use of this runway.”

 

The project, which is part of a Civil Aviation Master Plan, is expected to be completed by the end of summer. A rider’s fee, which was introduced by G.O.B., is being used to finance the project.  Duane Moody for News Five.

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