Thursday, July 25, 2024

Mayor discusses solutions for heavy vehicles and traffic on the island


San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, the fastest-growing municipality in Belize, is grappling with a critical issue – traffic congestion and the flow of large and heavy vehicles through its downtown area. Mayor Gualberto’ Wally’ Nuñez has stressed the situation’s urgency, affirming that his administration is actively working towards solutions to this longstanding concern and ensuring all residents’ safety.
As community dissatisfaction grows, Mayor Nunez has noted potential solutions. In a statement released on Saturday, June 8th, he not only acknowledged their concerns but also emphasized the importance of their input. His team’s immediate action is to bolster their traffic department’s and wardens’ capacity, enabling better management of large trucks during peak hours. He also suggested that companies install a Global Position System tracking system in their fleet to track the movement of their vehicles and ensure compliance. This measure reflects the community’s safety concerns.
For a long-term solution, the Mayor is proposing a comprehensive plan to divert the trucking of material away from the downtown area. This plan includes establishing a facility on the west side of northern Ambergris Caye that provides access to barges. The Mayor explained, “We have been carefully considering this plan for a long time. The material will be more efficiently transported between the marina south of town and other locations north of the island.” As a result, only small delivery trucks will be permitted to traverse downtown San Pedro.

This long-term plan is one of the suggestions many islanders have shared with the local authorities for several years. This venture was considered too costly in the past, but with the growing concern due to the large number of large trucks through town, the barging system is now deemed the only permanent solution.

Trucks on a barge

The idea of a barging facility in northern Ambergris Caye was proposed in August 2023. The central government announced that the Northern Ambergris Caye Development Committee would work with the local authorities to materialize this long-term plan, including a port in northern Ambergris Caye. This will create a new route for large cargo and trucks transporting construction materials destined for the northern Ambergris Caye and a feasible way to transport goods from north mainland Belize to the island at a lower cost. Currently, vegetable, meat, and fruit products are transported to San Pedro’s southern port from the Mennonite Community of Neuland in the northern Orange Walk District.
One issue many island residents are pointing out is the reported importation of more heavy vehicles. The Mayor did not offer a clear response. He briefly said that the San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) only issues motor vehicle licenses with valid permits issued by the Ambergris Caye Traffic Control Committee (ACTCC). He said the committee verifies these applications and determines when to grant a permit. The ACTCC is also working on enforcing a moratorium with strict regulations to import vehicles to the island. New trade licenses for new golf cart rentals will not be issued, and they cannot increase their fleet. The importation of vehicles will only be considered for replacements.
While details on this plan are ironed out, SPTC reminds truck companies of the notice restricting large trucks’ access to the town core area during certain hours. The notice states that no large delivery trucks can operate from 8-9AM and 11:30AM-1:15PM, Monday through Friday. On Saturdays, no large trucks are allowed downtown after 1PM. No trucks should be operating in town on Sundays and public and bank holidays.
In addition to this matter, Mayor Nuñez noted that his team is working with the central government on a project to tackle other issues affecting San Pedranos. These include the traffic situation, speeding, disorderly driving, and roadworthiness of motor vehicles.
The Mayor encourages all residents concerned about the issues in San Pedro to actively participate in finding solutions. “I thank everyone for coping with the challenges of our developing island AND for being part of the solutions. Keep sharing your ideas and solutions as we keep improving our island,” the Mayor concluded. Concerned citizens are welcome to visit the SPTC office on Barrier Reef Drive during regular working hours to share their thoughts on San Pedro Town issues.

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