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Jul 20, 2010

Port of Big Creek not big enough, multi-million dollars expansion planned

There is a major investment in the works for the south. The owners of one of the two privately owned ports are investing some thirty million dollars to expand and attract more services at the Port of Big Creek including in the tourism industry. The investment was first revealed in an international trade journal and today News Five’s Marion Ali headed south to take a closer look at what the expansion project at the Port of Big Creek in South Stann Creek will entail.

Marion Ali, reporting

Having been in operation since 1990, the Port of Big Creek is the first privately owned and operated facility in Belize.  Now the principal shareholder in the port, Banana Enterprises Limited, is making strides to expand the site.  Once completed, the port is expected to tap into a wide gamut of added services.

Gustavo Carrillo, Mgr., Port of Big Creek

“We have three major projects: one is the addition of a third berth, the other which is the biggest part of it is the dredging operation to deepening and widening the port. The third one is the construction of a barge that would be able to move say about sixty, forty foot containers.  Belize Ports are restricted by draft limitations, like the Merse Line just postponed some of its services to Belize because they had draft limitations in Belize City. If we can create a port to accommodate those vessels then I guess we can attract cargos that have been bypassing Belize to stop in Belize and those will also benefit the community here in the south.”

While there are other export industries in the south, investors see the project as having ideal potential to further improve on tourism figures.

gustavo carrillo

Gustavo Carrillo

“The south is developing fast. You have growth in the banana industry, in the citrus industry, you have the International airport being built down south, you have an increase in tourist attraction in Placencia. So we believe that we are poised in a strategic point that we need to improve our operations so that when all these developments bear fruit, we are in the right position to attract and provide the services needed.”

Because the expansion will entail clearing mangroves, it requires an environmental impact assessment.  That is being done by Natural Resource Consulting and is being headed by Mario Fernandez, who says the main focus is the problems ships face when entering and departing the channel near the port.

Mario Fernandez, Consultant, Natural Resource Consulting

mario fernandez

“There will be a certain amount of mangrove that will have to be removed in order for that channel to be straightened. So this is a balance that we have to determine whether it is important to remove that or whether there is an alternative. At this point in time, we have to look at two things, the mangrove versus the safety of the ships coming in and going out.”

Those ships entering and exiting are mostly export-oriented and transport between seventy and seventy five percent of the total produce of Belize.  At a time when the economic crunch prevails, the expanded port, when completed, will not take away business from the existing Port of Belize Limited in Belize City.

Gustavo Carillo

“The cargo that comes through here would not normally go through Belize City and the cargos we have attracted have been non-traditional cargos into Belize. We believe it is a different type of business that we want to create.”

And as far as the environmental concerns go, Mario Fernandez says the project does not pose any real threat.

Mario Fernandez

“It is only a small strip of mangroves that will be removed. Mangroves will remain on both sides so the risk is not really increased by removing that small strip mangroves.”

Marion Ali

“I’m sure that there are marine lives around naturally.”

Mario Fernandez

“Part of the assessment is to look at the flora and fauna in the marine environment and one of our workers is doing that at the moment.  That will be a part of the E.I.A. Based on what he has found, this area really because there are a lot of heavy sediments in the water, it does not have a lot of marine life around the port.  We have not found anything significant which to our mind would not allow this project to go through.”

Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

The expansion is expected to take two years for completion.

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6 Responses for “Port of Big Creek not big enough, multi-million dollars expansion planned”

  1. Concern says:

    This is what you call a real investment in Belize, just imagine finally a “REAL PORT FACILITY” have anyone visited the Port in Belize City lately, it is entitled “Port of Belize Limited- a Port with a Global Perspective” HA-HA-HA big joke people, more like a port with out any mind for its customers- their motto should be “We noh Business because you have to come to our port like it or not” do we have any clue what a functioning port does for our country? it brings forth prosperity for all users and stakeholders. I take my hat off to the people down at the Port of Big Creek for such a bold move, they are thinking way ahead of thier largest competition/competitor in Belize City. Luke Espat wake up and smell the coffee tell your Board of Directors to take their heads from out of their……….. straight like that, you all need to get your act together Port of Belize Limited/Belize Ports Limited/Belize Port Operators/Alliance Trucking/etc… take some of the same monies you are bleeding from the port and re-invest it back into the infrastructure and antiquated equipment that fails at the blink of an eye. I am glad that someone had the moral courage to make some serious investments without asking GOB for any help, this is real investment and real customer service .

    Forward Banana Enterprises Limited, no looking back gentlemen make Belize a destination for other shipping lines like theMaersk Lines and any other lines who wants to make Belize the destination of their choice.Big respect goes out to the “Port of Big Creek”

  2. Bulba Martinez says:

    Congrats to Mr. Carillo and Mr. Fernandez. For once we finally have something positive and constructive to hopefully look forward to, especially for us in the ‘FORGOTTEN SOUTH”. I am hoping that our Prime Minister would utilize his arrogance by returning “Commerce Bight Jetty Pier” back to us Grigalizeans. Our people have lost numerous jobs caused by GOB’s conveyance of said pier to the Espats. Remember BTL situation?, well, mek wi knock wah ting like dat and give wi back wi pier noh man?. Of all the promises prior to election, even though “A promise is a comfort for a fool”, we will willingly accept this favour from the Prime Minister because Minister Hulse di bow and can’t recite. If GOB can do this, trust me Mr. Carillo, this will be very helpful for your future project and the best thing that will ever happen to our country’s economy. After all, ‘THE FORGOTTEN SOUTH” has the deepest water ports through out the country and thanks to the Investors because GOBH/GOB has always threw a blind eye on Griga and Toledo. Our current and former Area Representatives has worked their A—– off to help us in the south and they always come back to us empty handed and are probably being politically abused/used as Puppetts. Hopefully they don’t try to —-k this one up for our country like everything else.

  3. BZNinCALI says:

    I hope the removal of the strips of mangrove does not make the area & the places a little further from the coast more vulnerable to the waves from hurricanes.

    Let’s be honest allowing an international airport to fly into Placencia or somewhere in the south, adding a deep water port that can accommodate larger containers, is this not just another way to get around having to deal with the craziness in Belize City?

  4. Alan Jonws says:

    ithink the development for the south is very good and hope the the poorer masses of people get to benifit from this in the longer term.

  5. Louisville Ky says:

    Expanding the Port facilities at Big Creek will truely give an economic boost to the inhabitants of South Central Belize. I feel confident that upon completion of the E.I.A. , it will become evident that there won’t need to be a whole lot of disturbance done to the enviornment as the true deep water facilities lies naturally in that part of the Jewel, South of the Stann Creek river.
    Truth be told, all those millions spent on the so called deep water port in Belize City, could have modernized both Jetty pier [ Commerce Bight ] and Big Creek with change left over. But….” the powers that be “, 30 yrs ago just could not bring themselves to investing that kind of money in that part of the country. Those of us in the industry at the time saw it for what it truely was; politics first and foremost and straight out contempt for us Southerners.
    See, all this time Orange Walk was being championed as the industrial capital of Belize. So, they had to live up to the hype. Dont take my word for it; check for yourselves to see, which district in the entire Nation brings in the most foreign exchange? STANN CREEK !!! What with Citrus, Banana, Tourism, Fishing etc….. not to mention the herbs from backa Waha leaf and them places deh!!
    Imagine they had to dredge half a mile behind Port Loyola to get a draft of 15 ft ; whereas at Commerce Bight we had 25 ft. dept just three lamp post distance from the beach side. There were times when vessels could not dock at the so called deep water port in Brlize that had to come to Commerce Bight and dock with ‘Style’ and unload its cargo.

    Luke [ Lukie ] Espat and I go way back, and knowing him the way I do; for the business man that he is, I am not sweating him. I hold the Politicians responsible for not only neglecting Jetty Pier, but more so for allow shipments connected to the citrus industry to be diverted and handled by Big Creek Port Authority. Unless you were from Griga and its environs, you cannot begin to understand the economic vaccum that was created when the ships stopped calling at Commerce Bight. To put things in perspective, what those guys made in say , a weeks time took us regular folks about a month to earn. Mein.. you could’nt tell those water front workers NOTHING!!!
    Forward with the expansion at Big Creek, but please don’t forget Jetty Pier!!!!
    Just trying to put a lee word in for my fellow Grigalizeans !!!!!!!

  6. Bulba Martinez says:

    To Louisville Ky, “THE FORGOTTEN SOUTH” has been ignored and abandoned by bureaucratic politicians since Colonial days my friend. The political first familys (eg) Musa, Fonseca, Barrow, Espats, Arthurs and their friends are the ones that are running our country and are the only ones that are financially benefiting from every angle you can think of. Southern Belize always had what it takes to boost our country’s economy, but whether you’re Cooly, Creole, Indian, Spanish, Chinie, or of any other ethnic group, in a nut shell, we have been classified as “Carobys” since then and nothing has changed other than most of us having to deal with whatever abuse we have to endure to get a little more bread in our mouths and to feed our family. Very radical and racial, but it’s very real my friend. Noh mek no ghost fool you my friend, the only reasons our Area Reps are being recognized in the house is: (1) we have to have a Representative in each District even if they are used or abused within the house. (2) The very same people (Hypocrites) that are kicking us in the butt needs our votes to push the shaft in deeper. (3) Our Reps are there to be looked down on even if they have to kiss –s for their own benefit. Let me give you an example my friend, Luke Espat and his Inc. was issued ownership of Jetty Pier during the P.U.P era, knowing damn well that it will affect our peoples economy in a negative way. Our Ancestors worked vigorously to maintain that Pier which was taken away from us in a hearthbeat by this evil act, whether we like it or not. I am highly upset because my late father contributed in building the very first Jetty Pier and almost lost his life when the Crane tilted over. I was able to attend school from that very same Pier and so were many other Citizens from the south. This present government was supposedly trying to acquire and return Jetty pier back to us and have failed so far.

    Another example, During the same period, Espats (Belize Building Society) acquired a portion of land at Hopeville area, Toledo which was supposedly to be sub-divided and issued to the poor people of Toledo. As you read this, Espats, “Belize Building Society” has built atleast 6 homes on said property and is selling these homes to anyone that is willng to pay a deposit and can afford monthly mortgage payments. The thing is my friend, if you or any buyer can afford to buy one of these homes right now, the Espats will not be able to give you a clear title for your property, trust me. “Dehn noh have di title fi di land yet bicause. Dehn noh want pay purchase price fi all di land to GOB right now, bicause dehn expect fi mek all di money from di buyers dem first”. My point to all Belizeans, you that need a parcel of land to build a “knock & stand-up” will go through all sorts of red tapes to get a piece of land that our government claim we rightfully deserve. On the other hand, just think about what I just shared with you. Open your eyes and ears, you might see or hear more than I do.

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