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Dec 3, 2021

Coastal Road Upgrade 60% Complete

Over a hundred million dollars is being invested to upgrade the Coastal Road, also referred to as the Coastal Highway. With construction works well underway, the upgrade is sixty percent complete. But already there are discussions between various ministries to ensure road safety, from security, education and enforcement standpoints. Capacity building among the enforcement units is already in place so that when the road officially opens in the months ahead, it would be smooth driving. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

The coastal road has for years been used to access the remote village of Gales Point Manatee in the Belize Rural Central area of the Belize District.  While it wasn’t ideal for smaller vehicles to traverse, it is an alternative route to access southern Belize, cutting down travelling time drastically. Now for almost two years, since February 2020 when ground was officially broken, road works have been ongoing to upgrade the Coastal Highway. About sixty percent has been completed with bridges installed – the majority asphalted with bus sheds and speed bumps set in place.


Peter Williams, Operations Officer, Department of Transport

“The Ministry of Infrastructure Development will be putting in the necessary road furniture, as we refer to them; the reflectors on the road, the markings, the signs, the crash barriers – all of that will be a component on this highway to increase the safety of the highway.”


From a policing standpoint, it is no secret that several illegal drug plane landings have taken place on the Coastal Road. But then in recent times, traffic fatalities have been on a rise. So the police will be teaming up with the Department of Transport to maintain a presence along the thirty-six-mile stretch.


ASP Jerome Steven, National Traffic Commander, Belize Police Department

“As soon as this road is completed, we will be out here with the highway patrol. We will be patrolling within the areas so as to keep the traffic from speeding. We will be mounting various checkpoints within the area at different locations so that we can assist in having this area a more safer place to slow down vehicles so as not to cause so much fatalities. As we know, recently we have a spoke in fatalities all over, countrywide so we will be put in that into place. We’ll have to have our presence on this road 24/7. It is going to be shared between Dangriga and the rural area of Hattieville. As you know there is a substation in Mahogany Heights, so they will also be making frequent checks within this jurisdiction.”


The project is expected to be completed in 2022 and when that happens, a multisectoral approach will be undertaken to ensure that the integrity of the road is not only maintained, but that road rules are enforced.


Peter Williams

“The two main contributing factors to road traffic collisions are driver behaviour and enforcement. So when this highway is completed, we want to be able to tap into ways on how we can cure the malpractices of drivers and the primary way that we can do this is through our education system. Currently, road safety is now a part of the school curriculum.”


Sylvian Neal, Office Administrator, Second Road Safety Project

“The second road safety project was a part of the government’s way of responding to the road safety issues that we have in the country. What we want to tell the public is that the road is always a shared responsibility. I drive for you and you drive for me, but we also have to take everybody into account, even the pedestrians. We are dealing a lot with the softer intervention when it comes to the role of the project and a part of our intervention is awareness – education and awareness. We try to put out a lot of these commercials that try to tell people the proper way to do things.”


Operations Officer at the Department of Transport, Peter Williams says that there is a review of driving manual and driving test. The capacity of the department will also be enhanced with the use of technology.


Peter Williams

“We are looking at introducing a new driving manual, we are looking at upgrading the driving license test and so on, so that we can begin to put this information to the public so that they can understand what the rules of the roads are. We do have the TruCAM speed guns which are the top speed guns in the market right now. It is very user-friendly and has advanced technology. These devices will be used; we are waiting for the training from the manufacturers the same way with the breathalyzers we went to the manufacturing company and we got that master level training, we are going to do something similar with the speed guns. And once we have gotten that training, our officers will be deployed with the use of those devices. Currently, there is this misconception that there is no law that governs the use of the speed guns or the breathalyzer and I want to state categorically that that is not true; that is a fallacy. We do have the necessary legislation in place to proceed with that. In fact, we have had several convictions before primarily with the use of breathalyzers. So yes when this highway is completed – and not just this highway, but all our highways – we will be utilizing those devices.”


Duane Moody for News Five.


Similar road furniture and enforcement measures will be implemented on the Chan Chen and Sarteneja Roads that are also being upgraded in Corozal at this time.

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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