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Apr 21, 2020

New Law Prohibits Lighting of Fires During SOE

You can no longer light fire during the state of emergency. If you are found doing so, you can be fined up to five thousand dollars and if you can’t pay that fee, then you can spend up to two years behind bars. That is because today the Ministry of Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development announced the new law that came into effect which makes burning of fires during the state of emergency illegal. As we have been reporting since last week, the growing number of fires across the country is posing serious health and safety risks. On Monday of this week, one hundred and eighty-six fires were recorded across the country.  Today, we spoke with C.E.O. Doctor Percival Cho and he tells us more about this law to control air pollution.

 

Dr. Percival Cho, C.E.O., Ministry of Environment, Forestry

“This new law requires all persons to stop burning , to not burn any refuse, any yard waste, garbage, vegetation, bush, grass, milpa, any sort of fields in Belize for the duration of the state of emergency, so until the end of April. We are working on additional measures to come into place for the duration of the year and every other year for that matter because burning is an annual thing but those would be dealt with at a later time but this piece of legislation is focused on the next nine days or so until April thirtieth. So, what is means is that if someone is caught burning by the police or the Department of Environment, they would be immediately fined the five thousand dollars and taken before a magistrate when available. Failing to pay the fine, if you are found guilty it would be a two year imprisonment term for anyone found guilty of setting fire. So, it is really a measure to control air pollution that we are suffering right now across Belize, in Belmopan especially and San Ignacio even more. And to give people some relief from the amount of smoke and ash and dust that originate from these fires. Now, one thing that I should mention is that some of these fires have escaped into surrounding vegetation based on reports coming from the field. So, those fires would have to be addressed through some direct intervention to out.   There is quite a lot of refuse burning in people’s yards in cities and towns. People are burning small little bits of garbage sometimes in plastic bags, sometimes dried leaves falling from the trees and so forth. That also is included as a prohibited activity and we would warn the public to please cease from burning anything in their yard at least for the duration of the state of emergency and to cooperate with us in that regard because we are getting complaints on a daily basis from across Belize.”


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