SPTC looks to renovate central park by using building material made out of Sargassum 

Friday, April 7th, 2023

The new wave of Sargassum influx at the beginning of this year threatens the tourism industry across Belize. Some stakeholders and the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) have been conducting clean-ups in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, but it is not enough. To alleviate the concern, Mayor Gualberto ‘Wally’ Nunez has been discussing the problem with Mexican entrepreneur Omar Vasquez, founder of SargaBlocks, to possibly make building blocks from Sargassum and use them in an upcoming beautification project.
Mayor Nunez indicated that his administration spends between $5,000 to $10,000 weekly, removing the heavy influx of the brown algae beaching on the shore. “It is quite a challenge because we have had to use a lot of the resources here to be able to tackle it. It is quite a challenge because the amount coming in has been a lot this year, so much that you have it all the way to the end of the docks at times,” Nunez said. The Mayor sees the issue as never-ending and is doing their best to keep the beaches in the downtown area as clean as possible. He added that visitors come to the island to spend time on the beach, but with the Sargassum on the coastline, most tourists head to Secret Beach, located north-west of San Pedro, where the pungent algae is not a problem as on the windward side of the island.

Project at central park
The plan is to use blocks made from Sargassum to build new facilities for vendors, among other construction plans. “It is part of our beautification project for the park. We want to change all these tents that are there for the food vendors and place them in nice, uniformed casitas where they can sell the food,” said Nuñez. “We want a shaded area where people can sit and eat. There will also be a small stage with a changing room. We are planning on doing this now out of SargaBlocks.” The Mayor said this would show the people that Sargassum could be turned into something positive.
Vasquez had been on the island before and introduced the idea of turning Sargassum into construction blocks during the Daniel Guerrero administration in May 2019. He explained that the Sargassum blocks are safe to use once properly processed, and their durability is up to 120 years. “This is based on our tests,” said Vasquez. He mentioned that SargaBlocks are not only cheaper than concrete but acoustic proof. Vasquez added that a house built with SargaBlocks would feel cooler, particularly on hot days. Vaquez said he and his team have built and donated fourteen homes made with SargaBlocks in Mexico. According to him, his factory produces approximately 30,000 SargaBlocks every month. Vasquez looks forward to fully introducing this project in Belize and even building the first SargaBlocks home for a family in need.
To those still skeptical about building structures using Sargassum, Vasquez asks the public to believe in it and give it an opportunity. “I am here to work and help the people,” said Vasquez. He was amazed by the Mayor’s partnership to join this venture to benefit the island residents.
Belize will be the first country outside of Mexico to see construction projects using SargaBlocks. Vasquez said he couldn’t wait to start working with the island community, but first, they will be heading to Japan to receive four awards for his company’s work. He said one award is called From the Sea to the Earth, and the other is the Circular Economy, followed by Living Better, and the fourth is a special award given only to Japanese people once every five years.


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