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Dec 19, 2013

Uproar in Caye Caulker; sand from the island being shipped to San Pedro

The recent rains have wreaked havoc on the streets in Caye Caulker, but that problem aside, the situation has been aggravated by another issue which is not being caused by nature but is man-made.  For weeks, residents have been complaining that sand from the island is being excavated and transported to San Pedro when it is badly needed in Caye Caulker. This morning it all came to a head when dump trucks transporting sand to a waiting barge en route to Ambergris Caye were blocked from proceeding. News Five’s Isani Cayetano.

FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: Caye Caulker Residents Protest over Sand

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Deplorable street conditions, as a result of persistent torrential rains over the past several weeks, are a countrywide problem.  While the general issue is being addressed through funding from central government, Caye Caulker residents are very much incensed that it is not being dealt with properly by their local administration.  They contend that the sand being excavated and deposited at the rear of the island can be used for urgent repair work.  Instead, it is being shipped by barge to neighboring Ambergris Caye.

 

Jamie Rosado, Caye Caulker Resident

Jamie Rosado

“About two weeks ago we noticed that there were weird trucks coming on the island moving sand.  So we wanted to know where the sand was going.  The sand was being loaded onto a barge.  We found out the sand was being moved to San Pedro, alright.  Now this is Caye Caulker’s sand and they pushed us around and around and around and told us there’s no sand for sale.”

 

That is, according to village chairperson Wayne Miller, simply because the sand collected is owned by a private contractor.

 

Wayne Miller

Wayne Miller, Village Chairperson, Caye Caulker

“We have a contract with Damian Chamberlain, the guy that dredges.  We get ten percent of the sand [and] he gets the rest of the sand to sell or do whatever he does with.  Apparently what happened is that a Ministry of Tourism project came up in San Pedro and he got a contract to sell some sand so he came over, moved the sand from Caye Caulker, his part of it, from Caye Caulker to San Pedro.”

 

That was around the beginning of December.  This morning, another shipment of sand was destined for San Pedro.  That freight, however, wouldn’t be allowed to leave the island, as angry residents blocked the path of the dump trucks using their golf carts.  The message is very clear.

 

Michael Joseph

Michael Joseph, Caye Caulker Resident

“What happened this morning is a preview to what will happen every time that barge comes.  We will stop it right through ‘til the thirty-first.  So that contract will run out, no sand will leave the island.  Contract finish, sand stay, we’re happy.”

 

The idea is that that material would then be used to fill as many potholes as they can with what is currently at the site.  The problem, says Miller, is not the availability of sand.  He attributes the delay to the inclement weather.

 

Wayne Miller

“Two weeks ago when we got a small break from the weather we did, we had already started doing two streets with our sand.  So the sand is not the issue.  It really [isn’t].  Village council sand is not the issue.  The issue is people seeing sand going off the island and think that we are either giving it away or selling it.  But it doesn’t belong to us, we don’t own it.”

 

While that may be the case, Michael Joseph, himself a resident, is not sold on the idea that the tourism project in San Pedro should take priority over fixing their faulty streets.  After all, Caye Caulker is also a tourist destination.

 

Michael Joseph

“I am satisfied [with] his reason, his reason being that there is an existing contract.  I am not satisfied however, because if you have a need then your need comes first.  Now, I am satisfied also that he explained that the contract ends on the thirty-first, end of this month.”

 

Visitors and residents alike have been forced to cross wide pools of murky water by hopping from sandbag to sandbag.  The village council chairman is in a pickle and breaching the agreement is not an option.

 

Wayne Miller

“I could do one of two things, I can break the contract, alright, and you know the consequences of that, or let it run out and reconfigure it.  It’s a simple concept.”

 

…One that isn’t easily being bought by many of those who crashed a children’s Christmas party, hosted by the village council this afternoon, to get their message across.

 

Jamie Rosado

“What we’re telling him is please stand behind the people.  We put you there for a change, we expected a change.  I voted for him and I expected a change but now I’m ready to change him because we are pissed off.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

Minister of Tourism, Manuel Heredia Junior, was scheduled to visit the island today. But that visit did not materialize. 

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3 Responses for “Uproar in Caye Caulker; sand from the island being shipped to San Pedro”

  1. No more beano fo deano says:

    Get use to it.

    Belize is a country where the citizens are the side liner’s.
    Your country is run by a government who says you want a real public investigation into government corruption? What the little people think does not matter

    You citizens (in name only) have no significance as to what is going on.

    Be a puppie, roll over and wait for your rosewood and poopie logs to knawe on, suck it up fools, be Belizean.

    Keep Belizean that UDP & PUP has your back. Actually they just have your wallet, fool.

  2. SanPedroResident says:

    I see nothing wrong with this project. Residents of Caye Caulker need to investigate before getting in front of the news cameras and making fools of themselves on national television. This is a simple transactions between two individuals. One is selling..and the other is buying. This Sand will not go to fix streets in San Pedro! It is going to a project being run by the Ministry of Tourism. The Mayor of San Pedro is getting his supply of sand for San Pedro streets elsewhere. Investigate before you complain. We Islanders should be getting along…instead I feel jealously on the part of certain Caye Caulker residents. Its time we islanders unite and get along…there is enough sand for everyone!!!

  3. No more beano fo deano says:

    @SanPedroResident

    It is not like this is inherently bad idea, assuming the environmental impact studies are not corrupted.

    It could be a good thing to get people working together and create jobs in the local economies. Inspire people to be proud of their neighborhoods.

    The problem is the GOB runs rough shod over the locals. Why bother asking what the locals want when you can lord over them? The decision has been made, what does it matter what the locals think, the most powerful have spoken by fiat. Why incorporate local advice, transparent accounting, and consensus when you can create things like the Dangriga market and leave a half-baked friggin mess in its wake, and hope people will forget about it.

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