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Jan 29, 1998

New machine works on Belize City streets

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For many motorists the activity of driving on smooth pavement in Belize City is the shock of a lifetime. Well, if you haven’t yet recovered from that experience, this one just may send you to the emergency room. I first saw it while driving through town earlier this week…and quickly called for a cameraman.

Traffic by the Belcan Bridge was at a stand still, as drivers were force to wait as Freetown Road and Central American Boulevard were cleaned of the sand and other debris dust that has accumulated along the newly constructed sidewalks.

Philip Penner, Project Manager, CISCO Construction LTD.

“The dust on the street. I mean it looks bad. The drains clogged up, they got these little holes on the side that clog up. When it rains, you see water trapping all over the place. This should clean all that out and let the water run out.”

In the past, it took several men with wooden hand held brooms to sweep clean the streets of Belize City. The City Council efforts failed, however, as the dirt collected was swept to the side and eventually blown back onto the streets. Today, for the first time, that work is being carried out by one man behind the wheels of a mechanical machine, the Sweeper.

According to Philip Penner, the Project Manager of Cisco Construction, the company which owns the machine, not only does the vehicle save time and money, but the dirt collected is not just brushed away, it is picked up and put to good use.

Philip Penner

“It?s just a mechanical broom that sweeps the side and then sweeps it inside and contains it in a tank that is to the back and then you carry it away instead of the way they?ve been sweeping it, just sweeping it on the side and leaving it out there. This picks it up and you can carry it to a site and dump it as a fill.”

While he has plenty of confidence in the machine’s capabilities Penner stresses that at this time the work is only experimental and if successful there are plans to take it all over the city. But perhaps the machine’s biggest test will be when it is taken to Mahogany Street. Penner says this street has always been difficult to keep clean.

Philip Penner

“The biggest problem on Mahogany Street is that we have all those side streets that are not paved. Every time it rains there is a whole bunch of sand and stuff that is carried back on to the road and it just accumulates on out there, that would have to be almost a weekly thing that you would have to sweep it, but with this machine, it would take you about three to four hours to do and you would have the whole street clean as long as you don’t have anybody parked on the side of the streets.”

Today’s work at Pallotti junction involved not only sweeping as lines were painted on the streets to help with the smooth flow of traffic.

Philip Penner

“We are just trying to clean it off, so we could put in all our white lines. We will have some cat eyes put in between what they call those little reflectors so people know where to drive. Whenever you have a solid line, you are not suppose to be driving over the solid line. If you have a dotted line, you can pull over as long as nobody comes from behind you and that is what we are trying to do out here. As you notice on the extreme left hand side of us, we are putting a solid line so that whoever is on the other side has to go to St. Thomas. Whoever is on this side, should be going straight and not pull in front of the other vehicle.”

Following the work, it is expected that the clean streets will be handed over to the Belize City Council for regular maintenance. It will then be up to the council to decide how they want to do the job. While Cisco Construction is wrapping up operations on the Northside of the city, the company has already started its work on Faber?s Road. The first phase of the project work includes the digging of drains on both sides of the route.

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