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Mar 16, 2011

B.E.L. tells Mahogany Street vendors to move

Twenty-three vendors along Mahogany Street have come under pressure to move from their current locations. Belize Electricity Limited has written to the vendors justifying the directive on the basis that it is concerned about the safety of the vendors who are positioned dangerously close to the city’s main transmission line. The electricity company has given a time line, which does not match with what the City Council says. Still yet, it is cold comfort to the vendors, who say they stand to lose their businesses. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Twenty-three entrepreneurs that operate on Mahogany Street under high tension lines must move. The edict sent from Belize Electricity Limited was copied to the City Council since the vendors use crown land.

Wiley the Barber


“I pay three-sixty-five a year for this land fi lease and then I noh see how they wah wahn come and move me off ah this land and just tell we move just like that and I pay for this. They have to find somewhere fi all ah we vendors goh if they wah move we because every minute they di move people move people. They di move people from the town—they di move people from all bout the place—that dah no kinda life at all. People done squat, done set with their land and set with everything and they di move people all about. Yoh cant di live like that. People got fi live out yah. Like dah only they one fi life? People lik they make millions ah dollars. They noh have to the worry about poor people cause dah we get dehn rich and we make dehn make money every month and collect money outta fi we pocket. So if we noh work out yah and we noh wah generate, we can’t pay their bills.”

Prudence Wade

Prudence Wade

“I fall down with a sudden fitz. I have records at the hospital, sudden I fall down with wah fitz and I noh see clear or nothing like that. And after the fitz, I end up wah next time with wah fitz. Doctors say I have a spine problem, I’m walking ok, but one friend told me that that was the reason. From the time they give we the ok fid eh yah, they suppose to done know they di endanger fi we life. Why they wah come now when fi we money done messed up, fi come and talk about move now. They mi suppose to done look into that long time and noh give nobody no ok to stay out here. They noh suppose to mi do that. So now da we we wah do.”

Philip Willoughby, City Councilor

Philip Willoughby

“It is the councils who give permission for vendors. With that in mind now, the discussion came about and brought about on several important reason or rational.  The health aspect that I guess the amount of radiation or electricity coming whilst the flow of current is flowing through those high tension wires may cause some ailment or health issues or risk to individuals inhabiting the immediate areas on a daily basis; that’s one. And that is their primary reason or focus.”

Jose Sanchez

“But those lines people have been working under them for years—working under them not knowing?”

Philip Willoughby

“Yes and secondly if one of those lines will break and touch the ground or surface it will be a catastrophe, considered a disaster area and lives will be lost. It is within that context that B.E.L. has brought it to our attention that it is hazardous, to be under those lines. It is with that in mind that we are collaborating with vendors to ask them to kindly relocate. Come to the City Council; look for another piece of reserve for them to conduct their business and it can’t be under any high tension wires. And this is for any business across Belize City. B.E.L. has given notice up until the end of August.”

The Council says electricity will be disconnected at the end of August, however, the notice given to the entrepreneurs in the area, says that they have until December thirty first. In addition to vendors the bus stop and the Lake I Police Substation are directly under the lines. The owner of Foreign Touch Beauty Salon has been operating on Mahogany Street for two years.

Aretha Danderson, Owner of Foreign Touch Beauty

Aretha Danderson

“When I open the letter, the letter read and stated that the spot where the business situated is dangerous and it’s hazardous, so they give us up to a certain time to relocate our business. And they just come and hand you this letter and thinking that with the snap of your finger these things suppose to happen. But then di take money fi do things like that. Dah noh money weh people could just come up with off they back. Then yah dah small businesses so I noh know.”

Jose Sanchez

“Have you spoken to the other people who operate along here?”

Aretha Danderson

“Yeah wah couple ah other people. Actually one of them had wah idea fi make all ah we come together and visit whosoever we could visit and see what we can do about the situation because ih wah kinda rough fi everybody move cause you know how much business that pan this Mahogany?”

Jose Sanchez

“What was the actual deadline that they said you must move by according to this B.E.L. letter?”

Aretha Danderson

“The letter said the ending of the year.”

Jose Sanchez

“And the cut of power? When did they say they were going to cut your power?”

Aretha Danderson

“Well they said if you do not comply with the moving that they will cut your electricity so you will have no choice because you wa deh di work without your light.”

One family run business says that they will find a way around BEL to keep their trade alive.

Michelle Gotoy

Michelle Gotoy, M & J’s Fast Food

“I wa have to get power from my mom because my mom live right at the back of the business. So I wah probably hook up from she.”

Jose Sanchez

“But that will only take you to the ending of August but then December they say that the business still has to move or close down. What will you do at the end of December?”

Michelle Gotoy

“Well I guess we wah just put the business in that yard—in the front of the yard.”

Jose Sanchez

“Tell me a little bit bout yoh business.”

Michelle Gotoy

“Well M&J’s dah wah small business. We sell rice and beans, we sell fresh juices, we sell burger, we sell wings and different times we sell barecue and people can always come to M&J’s and get what they need.”

Jose Sanchez

“This is a family business?”

Michelle Gotoy

“Yes this is.”

Jose Sanchez

“How many people work together in getting this going every day?”

Michelle Gotoy

“Well I’ll say four of us. My mom, my brother, me and his girlfriend.”

Jose Sanchez

“So closing down is not an option?”

Michelle Gotoy

“No it is not because right now things is very bad. This is our only source right now to making ah lee money for weself and try survive cause right now you can’t get no job and nobody noh di give yoh no money, nobody noh di sorry for you. Government noh di sorry fi we right now and give we no money.”

Percy Lewis, U.D.P., Lake I Candidate

Percy Lewis

“There should be reasonable time, notice and so on. We don’t live in a dictatorship; these things should be worked out—this is our people’s livelihood man. I stand in solidarity with the people of Lake I. I will tell you something, some things about compensation, consideration of whether this thing could be rerouted and whether these people are willing and our people here with their businesses can find some other relocation. This is their livelihood man. This cannot be done to our people. We need jobs, not losing jobs. We need businesses, not losing businesses. With forty percent below the poverty line, we can’t afford this.”

Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

This afternoon B.E.L. pointed out in a release that it has been in discussion with the City Council and the P.U.C., who both agree with the recommendation for relocation. B.E.L. also says that it will not charge connection fees at the new location where the vendors will eventually move to.

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16 Responses for “B.E.L. tells Mahogany Street vendors to move”


    The Government should make it propriety on his agenda to reconstruct areas or make available areas all over the city for vendors. It is the low standard set by leaders, and officials in Belize on almost everything that an issue such as this one becomes an ongoing problem.
    Belize Electricity Limited should be black listed, many of those employees need to get profession education for this job, instead of risking people’s lives in their ignorance.

    Vendors need to stop complaining, and stop all the !@#$%^& as well, it is also their responsibility to make sure their place of business is safe, etc, don’t leave it all up the GOB to fix everything.

    How long will it take before all the vendors before they come together as one and confront their government/ Belize Electricity Limited with their issues, because this problem is not permanent it can be fix with much effort.

  2. cayobway says:

    It is high time for BEL to start running wire under ground, especially in the city and towns, it will be for the saftey of the general public.

  3. MyLegacyB4myPeople says:

    Damn BEL and their bs they are just another 500 pound gorilla throwing their weight around, they are very vindictive the reason for this is because they have lost their case with the PUC and have now decided to take it out on the poor vendors my message to the vendors DO NOT MOVE get together and buy a diesel generator or would be even better if there is not a lot of power consumption look into some solar power, if BEL do not want you guys there then they should pay to have all of you relocated, hire a lawyer and do a class action against them and look out citizens if they have not started as yet they will soon start doing more black outs and blame it on something else they are just another branch of the wealth building legacy scheme. Remember, My Legacy B 4 My People.

  4. fromafar says:

    what if they re-route the power line, or put it underground? Something like that should not be going through a developed area anyway. I guess at the time the lines were put up there must have been little population there. But then again, knowing how Belize runs, not much thought is put into future development, zoning and such until it’s too late. Why did the caoncil allow the vendors to set up permanent shops in the first place?

    More importantly, where’s the Superman hat?

  5. Bz says:

    It says something when people are willing to risk their lives to continue their livelihood. I agree they should be moved, but I do sympathize with them. I think they are being given a reasonable time frame to deal with the situation. The City Council should try to help find a spot to relocate.

  6. Che 52 says:

    These alleged dangers of living and working in the close proximity to the main transmission line should have been researched before the line was constructed, and the findings made public. Why after all this time has BEL decided that there is a danger, is there some nefarious
    reason, behind this massive relocation in the City. What about the people who live near or under the same transmission line along the Western Highway, funny there is no mention of them being in danger

  7. Joe says:

    Progress brings problems!! – But let all parties come together and make best solution.
    1) BEL – has agreed to reconnect anywhere for free.
    2) Coucil should find a suitable place for vendors and guarantee a 2 yr tax free for vendors – while they settle.
    3) Vendors should put their energies in relocating and rebuilding instead of resisting (this is for their safety)

    Lets build Belize with a plan.

  8. BZNinCALI says:

    One of the vendors mentioned catching fits, that may stem from long term exposure to these power lines. In addition to the obvious, there is often a buzzing noise associated with them, along with health hazards & the reason many of us who live outside the country see them mainly above plant nurseries & areas that are less populated. BEL has unclean hands & deserve to have their actions looked at with skepticism.

    At some point, our city council may look at consulting with an architect who majored in urban planning & design so that he/she can give them some guidance & hope they listen. It will cut down on the constant conflicts & what too often comes across as insensitivity, arrogance &/or stupidity.

  9. BZNinCALI says:

    @MyLegacyB4MyPeople, excellent suggestions on generating their own electricity.

  10. check it out says:

    this is a slightly technical issue, I’m not sure if Willoughby is the right person to discuss this. there is no radiation involved he has been watching to much CNN. Power lines emit ultra low frequency electromagnetic fields. first we need to know what KV on these lines. BEL needs to identify to the public which lines are distribution and which are transmission. ans the recommendation is if lines are 115 KV or more then no residence of business should be within 400 feet due to the health hazards. these include increased risk of leukemia, abortions interruption of pacemakers. so if BEL is accepting that there is a health risk then a whole lot of households across Belize can have a case against BEL. start finding an attorney peoples.

  11. Disgusted! says:

    WELL SAID….. {MyLegacyB4MyPeople}…..WELL SAID!!! And that’s the HOOK, LINE, BAIT AND SINKER of the matter in a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!!! (SMFH!!!)

  12. Disgusted! says:

    Though I don’t normally comment on people’s post…I just couldn’t contain myself!

  13. Disgusted! says:

    Though I don’t normally comment on other people’s posts, I just couldn’t contain myself!!! REALITY BITES!!!

  14. Frustrated one says:

    Since the 1980s, there have been studies linking high tension wires to childhood cancers and other chronic diseases. We’re now in 2011, and BEL is billions of dollars richer. They OWE it to us to start being more responsible and accountable with the general public, from whom they have earned their billions in profit. We need to have all those unsightly and dangerously low placed high tension wires rerouted. The country’s electrical supply is just as archaic as 30 years ago; BEL is simply not giving us value for money.

    A lot of unexplained, so called natural deaths that occurred, in residents of the city, might just be attributed to those wires being placed directly in our faces, and because we are not a litigious society, BEL continues to take the cheaper route at our expense!

  15. Earl Grey says:





  16. OW Resident says:

    the fact is that as a developing country we need this infrastructure to keep the country moving forward. There is a lack of proper and visionery planning in Belize. We are this point where BEL should obsorb the cost of moving these people as a cost of doing buisness and there in actions from day one. They could have easily refused to connect the first structure from day one and this problem would not exist. BEL should pay for the relocation. City council should identify spots for the relocation and vendors move its for your own good.

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