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Aug 3, 2011

Jane Usher Boulevard under water

Residents along the Jane Usher Boulevard have been on the newscast before complaining about the appalling conditions of the streets in the area. Now that the rains are pouring, the potholes have become pools with water up to knee height and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. City Hall says it is the responsibility of the Minister of Works who is also the area representative to fix the problem. It doesn’t seem that will happen so they have taken matters into their own hands. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Pools of stagnant water along Jane Usher Boulevard in Port Loyola have long been a problem for residents of this neighborhood.  Successively, area representatives have assumed office since the community was established over two decades ago; nonetheless, very little has been done over the years to improve the conditions of streets and drains here.  The recent nightly downpour has only made matters worse.

Mario Castillo, Resident, Jane Usher Blvd.

Mario Castillo

“The streets are all broken up.  You can’t go on a bicycle.  A bicycle has to go like snake.  How can a car go through there?”

Indeed, traversing this waterlogged street by vehicle is quite a task.  Unfortunately, those who live along this stretch aren’t motorists.  They are forced to negotiate through knee-high water to get from one side to another as in the case of this child going to a nearby shop.

Noreen Hulse Martinez

Noreen Hulse Martinez, Resident, Jane Usher Blvd.

“People can’t go to the store as they want.  End of the evening I wish some of them would come and feel the mosquitoes.  We could see them breeding, flying all over [and] biting people.”

The issue, as it is, is twofold.  Beneath the still bodies of water that have collected in various parts along Jane Usher Boulevard are huge craters.  Once filled they become breeding grounds for spawning Aedes aegypti and Anopheles mosquitoes.  It’s a problem that councilor Roger Espejo has said City Hall is reluctant to address.

Roger Espejo, Councillor Responsible for Streets (File July 13th, 2011)

Roger Espejo

“The Belize City Council is apprehensive in terms of investing anymore in that particular area for the simple reason that every time holes and the craters and the street is repaired in that area, the water comes down and pretty much washes it away. So for that reason that area has been the way it is. But however, Ill have you know and you I am pleased to let you know that that area is under plans to be renovated on a whole new level as a part of the Southside Poverty Alleviation program. That street will be dealt with by the Ministry of Works and for that reason; weve refrained from touching it and wasting anymore tax dollars for a temporary fix when a long term fix is right on the horizon.”

That horizon has been rather distant.  In fact, solving this problem should be fairly easy, after all area representative Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez is the Minister of Works.  But they’ve waited long enough so this morning an army of residents led by Gregory Flowers took matters into its own hands.

Gregory Flowers

Gregory Flowers, Resident, Jane Usher Blvd.

“I di work from mawnin yoh noh sir cause I haffi do it cause nobody else noh wah do it fu we once we noh do it so we di try help di society to, yo undastand.  Soh all I mi want dehn do and da bring di ting weh could dig out di drain and we ah do di rest.”

Together Greg and his workmen have dug a little over sixty feet of gutter to allow for drainage of the street’s many basins.  While digging they unearthed an eel, one of numerous dangers that lurk within the murky ponds.  The work is tedious but they are tired of empty promises and so they forge ahead in the midday sun.

Noreen Hulse Martinez

“Obviously I am so tired of my people always complaining whenever they see me.  I wish I could do whatever I could do.  So at the end of the day I just got the initiative and I told them “hear what let us all come [together] as a community and see what we could do for [ourselves]’ because at the end of the day yes it’s government, yes we need this.  But if we as a community start to see that we need our community to look a different way from how it is now so that’s what we started this morning.  From 7:30 we are out here trying to get the community together, trying to get the water out.”

Try as they may, without heavy equipment from the Ministry of Works such as a backhoe to excavate the drains properly, their efforts today might be short-lived.

Mario Castillo

“The last time Boots came here he said that before the month of March this was going to be fixed, you know, we are what, we are in August now [and nothing is done.”

CitCo has effectively washed its hands from dealing with the matter and only time will tell whether it will be addressed under the South Side Poverty Alleviation Project or during the political campaigns leading up to the next general elections. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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