San Mateo electrification project underway
Thursday, January 16th, 2014
After 16 years of neglect residents in the San Mateo area of San Pedro Town are finally about to get direct electricity from the national grid owned Belize Electricity Limited (BEL). For years residents have had to live in the area with limited infrastructure, especially electricity, and they had to resort to unsafe hazardous connections. However, according to the Mayor of San Pedro Town, Daniel Guerrero, after much backlash from the island residents and the media, works have begun on the San Mateo Electrification project. He said that all residents will have access to connect directly to BEL before the Easter holidays.
The project is financed by the Government of Belize (GOB) through the Area Representative of Belize Rural South Manuel Heredia Jr. and the San Pedro Town Council at a cost of over $300,000. The first set of light poles was barged to the island to start the project. “BEL has been paid for the electrification of San Mateo and it should start at any point now. The entire area will be included in the electrification project. Each property owner will be incharge of paying BEL to get connected, just as everyone else does in the country. We are providing the infrastructure and the residents must pay to be connected with the approved requirements from the Public Utilities Commission,”
When questioned about areas in the community that lack adequate road access to accommodate the electrification project, Mayor Guerrero explained that the council is working on opening new roads to accommodate the project. “Those roads will be installed shortly,” replied Guerrero.
The Mayor also indicated that not only will residents soon enjoy direct connection to BEL, but they are now also connected directly to the Belize Water Service Limited (BWSL) water system. For many years, residents have been paying for water to the council at a rate far higher than the rest of the island. That was because all residents in that area were connected to one meter registered under the San Pedro Town Council. The amount of water the council was consuming through that water meter fell under commercial usage and rate, which was far higher than that of household and business usage rates. Those prices, along with the cost of water pipe maintenance and billing, translated to higher water rates for those area residents. “The council decided to transfer the responsibility to BWS and it was done with good intention on both sides. Not only have we seen the responsibility of pipe maintenance and billing removed from the council, thus cutting expenses for the municipality but residents will see cheaper water and better water pressure. San Mateo residents were paying more for water than in the entire country, and that was highlighted several times in The San Pedro Sun and other media. Now they are enjoying better rates just like the rest of the island,” explained the Mayor.
According the Mayor, BWSL has already requested permission to carry water improvement work in the area that will see water pressure improve. Those details are being discussed with engineers and that work is expected to commence as soon as BWSL completes other infrastructure improvements in other parts of San Pedro Town.
The San Pedro Town Council also took the opportunity to indicate that currently, they are in discussion with Medina’s Construction to have Tropical Wave Street, the remainder of Lion’s Street and Crocodile Street located at the entrance of San Pedrito paved with concrete slabs. As soon as an estimated price is agreed upon, construction will commence.