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Oct 5, 2022

Concrete Fence on Once Busy Road Inconvenience Belmopan Motorists

Controversy is brewing in Belmopan over a portion of roadway that was de-reserved and sold back in 2019. The then Belmopan City Council took a decision to have a portion of the Phillip Goldson Boulevard de-reserved. The land was surveyed and divided into parcels that were sold off. Belmopan residents are now experiencing the repercussions of that decision. That is because a property owner in that area has constructed a concrete wall on what was once a heavily trafficked roadway.  News Five understands that the property owner has title for the land, which means they are well within their right to build such a structure at that location. But tonight, Belmopan residents are saying that someone has to be held accountable. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.

 

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Imagine driving on a public road that you traverse regularly, only to find a concrete wall blocking your path. That’s what happened with longstanding Belmopan resident Carren Williams when she recently attempted to drive the Phillip Goldson Boulevard to get to her destination.

 

Carren Williams, Belmopan Resident

Carren Williams

“First off all I was trying to get right over here by the U.S Embassy to do a job I was supposed to do that day. But, when I came here, literally I drove here and I just stopped in my tracks and I just couldn’t believe that a structure like this was in the middle of a road where people normally use to access from over there to over this point.”

 

This roadway was once reserved for the construction of the Phillip Goldson Boulevard, but it is no longer public property.  Back in 2019, the former Belmopan City Council, under the leadership of Mayor Khalid Belisle, had a portion of the road de-reserved and divided into parcels of land for sale. Area Representative for Belmopan Oscar Mira spoke with us at the location.

 

Oscar Mira

Oscar Mira, Area Representative, Belmopan

“Under the previous administration and just before election we got to understand that this part of the boulevard was de-reserved and it was being offered up for sale. At the time it was hard to get information, but as soon as we got in government in November of 2020 we got the names of all those that got lots in the area. This side of the Boulevard is where the street was. As you can see now, we have a wall on the road. I think it was about twenty eight lots that were surveyed on the boulevard and it was sold to different persons.”

 

Mira asserts that the lots in this area were sold well below market value.  At the time of the sale, then Mayor Belisle defended the de-reservation by saying that the road reserve which spanned one hundred and eighty feet would be too expensive to pave. He added that the boulevard would be redesigned to put an eighty foot road in place.  But, what remains today, adjacent to the clogged artery, is a dirt road with no direct access to the nearest boulevard.

 

Carren Williams

“Next to it is what you call an auxiliary road that the residents of this future area when it develops will have access to that area so that they are not moving straight on to a main street. That is the way it works in other cities across the globe.”

 

Paul Lopez

“Now with this being out the question, that will become the main road.  Do you find that to be adequate?”

 

Carren Williams

“It is not adequate. First off all it is not a direct connect. Second, if you look at this road here I’m sure a lot of investment went into this road. We are in a time when resources are very scarce and our leaders are saying there is no money to build the roads. I mean, thousands of dollars went into a road like this, to give us another road that hasn’t been built any at all to go now and find money to invest.”

Making matters worse is the fact that a main waterline for Belize Water Service Ltd. runs along the now de-reserved portion of the boulevard. There is a concern that in the event the line breaks, BWSL would have to dig into someone’s property to make repairs. This already difficult situation may be compounded if a house is built directly over the line. But, Mira says his government’s hands are tied at the moment.

 

Oscar Mira

“Unfortunately as you can see now, we can’t use this road now because it has been sold and property owner has put a big wall. It is incomprehensible why or how the previous administration, what they were thinking when they de-reserved this part of the Phillip Goldson Boulevard.”

 

Paul Lopez

“Is there anything that can be done to reclaim these lands?”

Oscar Mira

“We have discussed and I have discussed with the Minister of Lands, and I have discussed this with the current administration at City Council. It is very difficult, as you know tittles were issued very quickly as soon as they de-reserved these lands, those titles were issued. Now if you have a title, it is costly to get it back, it is very costly. It is money the government doesn’t have to compensate. As you know the previous administration was very famous for compensating lands that they had given out in duplication. They were famous for selling land below market value and getting it back and paying over market value. So, we have a lot of those cases already. So, we are in discussion because, as you rightly said, many of our neighbors and the whole neighborhood are shocked to see this wall on the street.”

 

But, Williams and residents like her are demanding that the situation be rectified.

 

Carren Williams

“I hold both parties to blame. I hold all the parties responsible that are involved in the selling of this space. I hold all the parties responsible that bought this space, because all the people that bought this place knew what they were doing and personally Belmopan is a small space and people will feel hurt when I say that I hold them responsible but they are. Not because we know other people and we know people in high places means we will go and do this kind of thing. It is not right and we need to fix it.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez

 

Mira says his team is looking into other areas across Belmopan that were also de-reserved and put up for sale by the previous Belmopan City Council. We will continue to follow up on those reports.

 


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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