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Mar 20, 2019

Senate Debates Caracol Road Loan Motion

The Government has secured an additional twenty million US dollars loan from the Kuwait Fund for partial financing of Phase Two of the upgrading of the Caracol Road. In Phase Two, twenty-six miles of the Caracol Road will be upgraded from a dirt and gravel road to an asphalt road consisting of two lanes accompanied by lighting, improved drainage and the reconstruction of reinforced-concrete bridges. The multimillion dollars loan project has attracted both support and condemnation. In the house last Friday, the leader of the opposition, John Briceño, said the money could be used to build a hospital in San Pedro and improve sugar roads in the north. Those who support the loan say that the project will not only benefit the tourism industry but thousands of Belizean lives. Today those against this particular loan motion, say that the government should use the monies in areas where it is more needed. Here is how the debate raged in the senate in Belmopan today.

 

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Private Sector

Mark Lizarraga

“The overriding concern for this is the justification for these projects. We know that the government continues to invest heavily in infrastructure and other projects and we question how it is that they have arrived at that priority need. Why do we need to spend a hundred and eighty million dollars on a road leading to Caracol? And we are not spending on roads in the north, for the farmers in the north or roads in Shipyard or roads to all the other farming communities or fixing the streets for all the other people in the country that live in dust. Why is Caracol road a priority this time?”

 

Aldo Salazar

Aldo Salazar, UDP Senator

“I think we cannot focus on Caracol the temple itself. That is not the only purpose for this road. There are communities there. There is access to the Chiquibul. There is use for the Belize Defence Force. There are several things that have to be considered. It is not just that you have resorts back there and that is not necessarily the focus of this road.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“The question remains is this the best place to invest a hundred and eighty million dollars from our money at this time? Cannot the Caracol road be maintained by one grader, grading that road, keeping it graded? It is not high trafficked road? When that road is graded, it is not a high trafficked road. When that road is graded and maintained it is a very good road. We are just saying that it is so expensive. It is about three million dollars a mile. Is that the best place to spend our monies at this time.”

 

Elena Smith, Senator for the Unions

Elena Smith

“We are concern with our debt and the amount that is being owed, that is being barrowed. Because at the end of the day it is going to be the workers who will have to pay back these things and these things come in several forms. In terms of infrastructure because you always hear persons commenting after our comments, ‘oh you are against infrastructure, development’. That is not the case. Infrastructure is important but we need to prioritize.”

 

Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods, PUP Senator

“What we are not getting are the feasibility studies. That certainly would have helped and we have always been asking for the details on these projects. I am assuming that the feasibility study was completed because while there was a signing for a feasibility study that would have taken ten months I year and four months later, we don’t know if that feasibility study was completed.”

 

Dr. Carla Barnett, UDP Senator

Dr. Carla Barnett

“It is a project that is being finances wholly through an arrangement with the Caribbean Development Bank. So all of the various steps that are necessary in the process of determining whether it is a project that is feasibility to a project that is going to be taken to the board for approval. All of these things follow the CDB design and approval process. The designs are inherent. They are engineering designs that are really speaking to the need to ensure that they road is climate resilient.”

 

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