Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy, Featured, People & Places » Waterloo Holds Spirited Public Consultation on Port Expansion Project
Sep 2, 2022

Waterloo Holds Spirited Public Consultation on Port Expansion Project

On Thursday night at the Biltmore Plaza, dozens of residents from Port Loyola and other communities in Belize City were on hand to participate in a public consultation held to discuss the viability of Waterloo’s Port of Belize expansion project. The event ran for several hours during which concerned citizens raised a number of questions in respect of the project, particularly the planned construction of a cruise terminal at the Port of Belize compound. The discussion was led by several individuals including Kenrick Gordon, an Environmental Officer with the Department of Environment, Andy Lane, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Belize Limited and Allan Herrera, a local environmental consultant with Nextera. In attendance were stevedores, businessmen, politicians and other interested parties who are also leading similar developments in the Belize District harbor.  At times the consultation got a bit loud and testy, but never out of control. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting


Allan Herrera

Allan Herrera, Local Environmental Consultant

“This is the icing of all investments because here we’re contemplating a project where there will be a massive turnaround in the port.  The idea is to upgrade it to be a modern facility that is at least one of the best in the Central American region and the Caribbean region.”


A public consultation on the feasibility of a proposed cruise tourism terminal in Port Loyola was held on Thursday night in Belize City.  The discussion succeeded the resubmission of an Environmental Impact Assessment that has been conducted to determine the effect of such a mammoth undertaking on the marine and terrestrial surroundings of the planned Port of Belize expansion.


Allan Herrera

“One of the components that we haven’t looked at very closely in the past, we probably did not stress it enough at the previous meetings we’ve had is the cargo port facility.  In 2005, when the EIA was produced, most of what was included in the development proposal was about the cruise tourism project.  One of the things, and it’s very good that I mention this and I want this to stay with you, the cargo port facility was not prominently placed in that project.  This project is a better project because it brings up the cargo port facility.  That facility, the same facility we talked about is the same one with the trestle and the pier, the same one that can only be used right now at the present time to unload one ship.  This project dramatically changes that and improves the cargo facility.”


The meeting was an opportunity for proponents of the Waterloo project, including a team of consultants, to engage in an exchange of views and feedback on a proposal that has been presented to the Department of Environment.


Andy Lane

Andy Lane, Cargo Port Logistics Consultant

“As we stand right here, we do not necessarily see a logical or a rational alternative to expanding the Port of Belize.  Belize, as a country, is going to need to continue to trade.  We must preserve our commercial activity, primarily in the Port Loyola and Belize City districts.  The expansion that we are proposing here potentially produces the least environmentally damaging outcome of any of the alternatives.”


To bolster that argument, lead consultant Allan Herrera of Nextera, an environmental and engineering consultancy firm specializing in environmental impact assessments and biodiversity management, points to existing restrictions where cruise tourism is concerned.


Allan Herrera

“Current constraints for cruise tourism: port calls in Belize City rely on tendering from deepwater anchorage. Larger ships are shore side only berthing vessels.  The tendering limits time visitors have to explore Belize and utilize services.  Again, an important consideration because when these people come ashore they travel all over the country.  If they spend more time on shore, they can go farther and they can subscribe to protected areas, they can visit protected areas that are right now not being visited.”


Present at the consultations were representatives for other competing interests, including Port Coral and Port of Magical Belize.  The former is responsible for the Stake Bank project which is being built two miles off the coast of Belize City.


Garen Simonyan

Garen Simonyan, Representative, Port Coral

“There already is a project being completed, Port Coral, here in the next few months.  It one hundred percent has a causeway approved and permitted to be built from Port Coral to the Drowned Caye development and from Drowned Caye to the city.  The entire purpose and basis of your project with needing a land-based approach for guests to disembark Oasis Class ships, and I do agree, it is safer, and come to Belize and enjoy all of the tourism here, already exists, sir.  The purpose of your cruise port project has nothing to do with cruise tourism, it has to do with something else.  The cargo port has had fifteen years in receivership to get upgraded, it’s interesting how today is when they choose to do this.”


As an activist, Jose Uk Espat raised the question of a better quality of life being provided to residents of Port Loyola beyond the construction of the cruise terminal itself.


Jose Uk Espat

Jose Uk Espat, Activist

“We have had, for the past four decades, promises to these people, of a better future, with the same politicians in charge of these areas that you speak of and today they are still in poverty. So, what makes you any different?  How can you guarantee for these young people, not just jobs while your project is ongoing.  How can you guarantee for our Belizeans long-term sustainability?”


In responding to that concern, Dr. Dionne Chamberlain, of Chamberlain Consulting, said that priority, where job opportunities are concerned, will be given to residents of Port Loyola, based on qualification and experience.


Dionne Chamberlain

Dr. Dionne Chamberlain, Chamberlain Consulting

“What we are looking at and what they asked us for was that we could guarantee, because this is a project of national importance and every single part of the country people will be applying for jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, that ten percent be given to them as a priority and that means that since you, Mr. Espat, come from Caribbean Shores, and a person from Port Loyola comes to apply for a job, if both you and him or her are qualified for that job, that the Port Loyola youth would get it or person would get it over you despite the fact that you come in on equal footing.”


Isani Cayetano for News Five.


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.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed