SPTC seeks to finance dredging project on the lagoon side of the island
Thursday, January 5th, 2017
The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has revealed its plans to continue bringing progress to the island in 2017. One major goal it’s determined to accomplish in the first months of the year is the dredging on the lagoon side of the island. This is necessary to accommodate larger vessels, so the international boat terminal at the Sunset Boardwalk can be put to full use.
The plan to dredge from the southern Marina Area north to the Sunset Boardwalk, located right behind the Honourable Louis Sylvester Sporting Complex has been stalled for over two years now. In 2015, it was announced that dredging would happen in 2016. Clearly, that did not happen, however, local authorities on the island began making preparations in August of 2016, assessing the area to be dredged.
After that assessment, all required permits were issued to the SPTC, and one of the executing bodies in charge of the project is the Belize Port Authority (BPA). Michael Jenkins from the BPA has not indicated when dredging will start. “We will be doing some final assessments during the first weeks of January,” said Jenkins. “Dredging is necessary, especially for the boats with in-board engines, however we have no idea when we will start the works since the Government needs to come up with the financing in the first place.” According to him, this has been the main set back on the project.
According to Mayor Daniel Guerrero, the dredging must happen this year, and told The San Pedro Sun that the Town Board itself will take responsibility for the funding. “The Town Council will do the dredging,” said Guerrero. “We cannot continue waiting, it needs to be done and if we do not do it then it might never happen.” Guerrero anticipates dredging to start in late January, and have the works done by the ending of March. The total cost of the project was not revealed, however, Guerrero was optimistic, assuring that the SPTC can handle the investment.
Guerrero indicated that when the project is finished, all boat companies must relocate to the terminal by on the lagoon side. Since the terminal was completed in 2014, it has not been used to its full capacity. One of the main reasons is attributed to the low areas on the lagoon which impede the passage of large vessels. The boat companies in town have been very reluctant with the idea of moving their services to the leeward side of the island, stating that the lagoon channel is just not suitable for their big boats. They have additionally complained that the new route is a bit longer and thus will delay arrivals and force them to increase their fares.
In response, Guerrero has insisted that the change will benefit everyone. According to him, the new route would provide much diverse natural scenery of the western side of the island for passengers. He emphasized that it will also reduce the congestion on the eastern coastline of San Pedro Town, bringing a balance to the heavy traffic the windward side of town currently experiences. Guerrero encouraged everyone to work along with the Town Board, who is committed to continue improving the services the island has to offer to all visitors.
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