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Nov 9, 2022

One Thousand Truck Loads of Debris Transported to Belize City Transfer Station Over Six Days

The massive cleanup effort across Belize City is on its sixth day. More than a thousand truckloads of debris have been removed from across Belize City. It has been all hands on deck in a herculean effort to get Belize City back to a place of normalcy following the devastation. And today, sugar cane farmers from the north joined forces with all those working on the ground. Fifty farmers from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and five sugar cane loaders did their part to give back to Belize City. But, where is all this detritus being dumped and how is it being managed. That is what News Five’s Paul Lopez found out today. Here is that report.

 

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Fifty members of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association travelled from Orange Walk today to assist with the cleanup effort taking place in Belize City.

 

Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“We saw in the news the effects that were caused by hurricane Lisa and as brothers of Belize, the cane farmers believe that we have a duty to come and assist the people from Belize City.”

That sense of duty also inspired them to donate the use of their loaders. The heavy equipment, while designed to work sugar cane fields, are ideal for the clearing of debris.

 

Alfredo Ortega

“With that machine it is faster to lift up debris. And we have four of them thank god, that those farmers agreed to come. So, we said ok today is the day for us to come and assist the people from the city. And, we are here.”

 

Minister Jose Mai collaborated with the cane farmers to finance the transportation of the heavy equipment and the labor force.

 

Jose Mai

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture

“This is a clear sign that the farmers in the north are in solidarity with the people of Belize, those affected by the hurricane. So, that is where we begin. I think that no cane farmer of my generation has seen the destruction that we saw in Belize City. I think that moved them, and so they left their jobs, they left their cane fields to be here today to show support for the residence of Belize City.”

 

And, their support brings much needed man power to the cleanup efforts that have been ongoing since Friday. Over the last six days, at least one thousand truck loads of debris has been transported to the Belize City Transfer Station’s compound at mile three on the George Price Highway. We spoke with Lumen Cayetano, the Director of the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority via Zoom about their efforts to manage this waste.

 

Lumen Cayetano

Lumen Cayetano, Director, Belize Solid Waste Management Authority

“Considering that the hardest hit area after Hurricane Lisa is Belize City, we designated a dumping area on the compound that is being managed using bull dozers, back hoes, and other equipment that remains onsite, is provided by the city council essentially. So, when the trucks coming in from Belize City that are a part of the clean up and collection of the disaster debris that is taken to that area and the pushing of the bulldozer takes place, the compaction, and the crushing.”

 

The bulldozer remains operational throughout the day, to clear space for the contents of incoming trucks. On the busiest days, up to two hundred trips are made to the transfer station. Initially, this operation was scheduled to be completed in three days, until authorities truly realized how much damage Hurricane Lisa had caused.

 

Emerson Garcia

Emerson Garcia, Solid Waste Technician, B.S.W.M.A.

“To be honest no, we were not expecting this amount of debris coming from the city. I am part of the Environment and Solid Waste Committee and they said that within three days they will be able to clean the city. But, as you can see today is Wednesday and they have plans until Friday.”

But, by Friday those plans may be altered, as there may still be more to clear from the streets well into next week. Emerson Garcia remains on the compound to direct the flow of traffic and dumping.

 

Emerson Garcia

“Usually once the trucks come with the debris, as you can see the trucks come mixed with white goods, and branches and stuff like that. So, once the trucks come we dump it right here to my right hand side. Then the trucks just empty it and we proceed. We get the assistance of the back hoes to empty them and then once the area is getting full we get the bulldozers to clear more space so that we could continue dumping.”

Lumen Cayetano

“The urgency of cleaning up the city has not given us the opportunity to separate the waste. Ideally you would want to separate the waste. It is not only trees, limbs, and branches that are coming in but you know for people who lost their roofs we have metals sheeting. We have wooden members from the structures coming in, refrigerators, freezers, stoves, television, and all of those things that may have been damaged by the rains that would have fallen into people’s house who have lost their roofs.”

 

When the city’s cleanup efforts come to an end, a much larger bulldozer will be used to spread and compact the debris. This will bring the mountain of detritus to half its current size. That will then be covered with land fill.

 

Emerson Garcia

“We have enough space. We have enough space. Once this area is filled we have to our left. Space should be no problem.”

 

Reporting for News Five I’m Paul Lopez.


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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