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Nov 12, 2019

Repairs on Swing Bridge Gone into Overtime

The historic Swing Bridge in the heart of the city is undergoing repairs to ensure the safety of thousands of pedestrians who traverse the bridge every day. But the state of the bridge has deteriorated so much that the scope of work has also grown significantly.  Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner says that now more time is needed to complete the extensive repairs. Here is News Five’s Isani Cayetano with a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The historic Belize City Swing Bridge stands as the oldest structure of its kind in Central America.  Constructed and installed near the mouth of the Haulover Creek almost a century ago, this relic of Belize’s colonial past is in a state of disrepair and the municipal government has assumed the responsibility of putting it back together.

 

Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“When we look at the safety of the people that traverse that bridge, we seh, “I need to get it fixed.  I need fu repair it immediately.”  And when we went in, the engineers went in, they start to dig here and dig there and listen, when you look, beams di erode, the structures weh di pedestrians walk, people could fall in, our kids could fall in on the side panels.  So what we did, we get wahn official assessment.  We neva feel that wih mi wahn spend over twenty thousand, that was the first, initial weh wih she, but as we start to dig in, we couldn’t open that bridge, it would have been irresponsible of us.”

 

The extent of corrosion beneath the passageway is quite alarming.  Indeed, this landmark that has for decades defined Belize City’s downtown, bifurcating its north and south sides, is gradually giving way to destruction.

 

Bill Lindo

Bill Lindo, Contractor

“Dis da di main beam ya and dis beam ya catch to that big plate way up da top, but da di bottom ya, ya soh, all ah dehn mi rotten so wih put dis plate ova all ah dehn.  Everyone ah dehn got wahn new plate deh.  Everyone we had to change and strengthen some ah di piece weh dehn call di stiffeners da top and then di eye beam ya, we change dehn ya and di whole decking and di flooring, everything change.”

 

The pedestrian crossing on the western end of the Swing Bridge is closed to foot traffic; however, remedial works to fix that portion of the structure have gone into overtime.

 

Bernard Wagner

“What we are doing, we are trying to ensure that when we reopen that bridge it is safe for residents and it will last us a year, year and a half, two years roughly.  We want to put some lights also on the bridge.  The bridge dark da night, so even that will be included on the bridge and when that side is finished we move on to the other side.  But ih hard when yo di work fi di people and ih just continue, dis back and forth become burdensome and become tiring to yoh, yoh undastand and we know fu we heart deh eena di right place and that‘s why we keep going.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is there a process that was followed in terms of the contractor submitting a bid for works there?  I ask because…”

 

Bernard Wagner

“No, no, no.  There was no… This was just a quick fix situation, we said.  We never planned that we would have, it would have lasted this long.  We felt that it would have been a one-off type, small term, short term, small cost.  But so it is when you di repair yoh house and yoh tear down one wall and yoh sih wahn beam di deteriorate and woodlice di eat deh and then yoh… We are confident that the money has been well spent, wi engineers from the council are well onboard with us with this.  They have been supervising the works on this bridge and we feel confident that the people of the city will see that our heart is in the right place.  We noh care if di bridge tek six months fi finish, we wahn get it right.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“I ask about a contract and a bid because the perception would be that perhaps the city administrator and her father, her father is the one whom I am assuming is the contract holder, it seems like a conflict of interest.  How did that come about in terms of him getting that job?”

 

Bernard Wagner

“I don’t think so.  Everybody know Bill Lindo, Bill Lindo da wahn engineer, he’s a certified engineer you know.  Certified engineer.  He knows how to get work done and at the end of the day, Mayor Wagner just said I wanted to get this bridge fixed, who is the best person fi get on this job immediately, and Bill Lindo fulfilled that.  I noh care ‘bout em, people might seh, bwai yo bias, da ih daughter da di administrator.  Listen man, we feel that we di get value fi money.”

 

A date for the completion of the repairs is yet to be decided. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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