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Nov 17, 2017

B.W.S. Rocks Down to Electric Avenue, Left Poor Results

It has been several years since the Belize City Council completed a mammoth undertaking to concrete as many streets as it could have, using monies that were floated through a municipal bond.  Its agreement with the utility companies is that they are individually responsible for all repairs should the need for underground work arise.  While B.E.L. and B.T.L. are compliant with the regulations set out in law, Belize Water Services Limited has been rather negligent.  For weeks now, a portion of Electric Avenue has been in disrepair, following works that were done by BWS in running water to a nearby property.  The company simply filled the slit with sand that has since begun eroding.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Darrell Bradley, embarked on a first-of-its-kind infrastructure project in 2012, that saw the concretization of as many as a hundred and sixty-five streets.  Those carriageways spread across the Old Capital on either side of Haulover Creek with an agreement that the various utility companies are individually responsible for repairs should they conduct subterranean work on any of the concreted streets.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“Initially when we had undertaken the works funded by the municipal bond, we had met with all the utility companies and the other interested parties, including, as you mentioned, some of the cable companies because we knew that that would have been an issue and we came up with a framework which we would have allowed all the various utility companies, adequate notice to do upgrades, including service connections and we toyed with the idea of creating a service corridor for certain streets that have medians, or to do a service corridor over the drains which are, in most cases, earthen drains.  So that you could easily access those areas, so that the process after a street has been concreted, most of the utility upgrades would have been done because in most of the areas of Belize City we allowed adequate time for, in some cases, several months for upgrades to be done.”

 

So it came as a surprise back in September, when personnel from Belize Water Services Limited completed the installation of a water meter to a residence at the corners of Western and Electric avenues and simply replaced the concrete that they had cut away with sand and gravel.  Since then, the cheap fill has eroded as a result of vehicular traffic, as well as occasional rains.  B.W.S., whose legal obligation is to repair the street the way they found it, is yet to address the issue, despite repeated calls from residents to have the portion of road concreted.

 

Darrell Bradley

“Well this is something that you just brought to my attention and I will ask our city engineer to look into.  There is provision in law, including the City Council Act to provide for the coordination of utility installations and the infrastructure of Belize City actually belongs to the city, so that the legislation vests that infrastructure in our hands.  We have ownerships rights and we also have control and we have the responsibility of maintenance. There is provision in law that requires them to seek permission and requires them to fix it as soon as possible up to the standard and to the condition that it was before.  And we also have our maintenance personnel, including our city engineer who monitors these kinds of works.  One of the challenges for a city Belize’s size, when we have one engineer and you may have multiple works going on in the city at any given time, you would have private contractors who would carry out works like this together with utility companies and they’re supposed to give us notice, but sometimes they don’t give us notice and our inspectors would catch the work after the fact.  Like for example, in this particular case when you’re bringing it to our attention we can funnel that information to our requisite technical staff who would follow up to ensure that the remedial works are carried through.  But the law actually quite clearly provides for the coordination of utility works and it requires people who interrupt or break streets to fix it back.  It’s actually a criminal offense to do an interruption of street work without the permission of the city council.”

 

By contrast, personnel from B.T.L. had been doing repair works to subterranean lines in front of our Coney Drive offices and if one weren’t quite vigilant, you wouldn’t even notice that a gaping hole had been dug in front of the building less than two weeks ago.  News Five contacted B.W.S. Public Relations Manager Haydon Brown earlier today.  He promised to look into the matter but we are yet to receive a response from his office. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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