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Jan 29, 2004

Sibun Bridge officially opened

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As anyone who regularly drives the Hummingbird Highway can tell you, there’s nothing like a near collision on a one lane bridge to make you realise the importance of proper infrastructure to a nation’s development–not to mention a motorist’s health. Today there is one less narrow bridge to worry about as the ribbon was cut on a structure in one of my favourite parts of the country.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

Motorists have been using the new Sibun River Bridge for months now, but this morning Minister of Works Jose Coye, Prime Minister Said Musa, students, and numerous dignitaries made their first steps over the structure as part of official opening ceremonies.

Built by Cisco Construction at a cost of four million Belize dollars with funding from the Government and the European Union, the ninety meter long, four-span bridge is solid concrete and steel, and comes complete with guardrails, handrails, and erosion control works around the centre piers and the riverbanks to reduce the impact of severe flooding in the area.

According to the government, the benefits of the bridge include increased economic opportunities for people on both sides of the structure.

Prime Minister Said Musa

“The Sibun River Bridge I think will have a tremendously important impact on the whole development of the south of Belize, and indeed the West as well, because it’s a clearly a very important link to Belmopan, Dangriga, Punta Gorda. But particularly I think it will be of tremendous benefit for the farmers to get out their produce on time, and of course you know the delays we’ve had with floods from this Sibun River, so this is a very important project.”

Up until late 2002, the bridge that spanned the Sibun River was a one-lane structure with a wooden deck, and like many other bridges along Belize’s major highways it posed a serious traffic hazard and cost several people their lives.

Jose Coye, Minister of Works

“There has been a high risk at this bridge like there are at other bridges as a one lane bridge. And when you try to put a value to it, the cost through the accidents and the deaths is tremendous from a health perspective. And that’s an area that when we look at the cost of not doing it how tremendous it would have been. So I think it’s a tremendous contribution to the area and to the country on the whole. It’s one of the main links on our chain of highways.”

According to Minister Coye, other bridges along the Hummingbird Highway, like Little Silver Creek Bridge, less than a mile away from the Sibun Bridge, will be among the first to be rebuilt to improve safety standards and as part of the economic development strategy for the south.

Jose Coye Minister of Works

“We do know of other areas and we are trying to link, I think giving priority to where they get the greatest returns, that’s the way. It’s a priority management approach that we need to take and that’s what we are doing with the limited funds.”

News 5 understands that major projects in the pipeline for the Ministry of Works include paving the Placencia Road in the Stann Creek District and upgrading the Sarteneja Road in the Corozal District. Construction work on the Sibun Bridge took exactly one year.

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