Headline — 05 March 2016 — by Rowland A. Parks
Who’s responsible for Los Lagos’ crumbling streets and clogged drains?

LOS LAGOS, Belize District, Thurs. Mar. 3, 2016–The low and middle-income housing project that a People’s United Party (PUP) Government created in Los Lagos more than a decade ago has been flourishing – all 250 houses are occupied, but infrastructural maintenance has been woefully lacking on the part of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Government of Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

In the run-up to the November 4, 2015 general elections, millions of Petrocaribe dollars were spent on maintenance and upgrading of infrastructure all across the country, but it appears that not a dollar was spent on the communities of Los Lagos, Fresh Pond, and Mahogany Heights.

The security booths in Los Lagos and Fresh Pond have fallen into disuse and are now relics of a bygone era. The entrance to Los Lagos, with its impressive two-lane boulevard, tells the tale of years of neglect, as giant potholes, which are everywhere in sight, definitely pose a risk to vehicles and even pedestrians and cyclists.

Amandala spoke to the Belize Rural Central area representative, Hon. Beverly Castillo, two weeks ago, and she indicated that she would speak to the relevant personnel at the Ministry of Works. Since that conversation, however, nothing has been done on the ground in Los Lagos.

On Monday this week, Amandala asked Hon. Castillo what the position was regarding the terrible street conditions in Los Lagos.

Castillo told us, “The Ministry of Works has started to do some grading. The deterioration is in Ladyville and Lords Bank.” Castillo added, “Hopefully by this week I will be able to get something done. We can only work with the resources that we have.” “I will work on it this morning on my way to Belmopan,” Castillo promised.

Castillo’s promise may have a hollow ring to some longtime residents of Los Lagos, who are of the view that they don’t matter in the overall scheme of things, politically.

Bernard Wagner, a banker and long-time resident of Los Lagos, told Amandala tonight that, “We feel like the system is failing us.”

Wagner observed that during the campaign leading up to the November 4, 2015 general election, the ruling party’s newspaper made fun of Los Lagos, describing it as “a failed PUP project.”

At the end of the day, people who live here are Belizeans, Wagner explained.

Wagner said the streets are so desperately in need of rehabilitation that the residents feel that they have to take matters into their own hands, as they have done on a number of occasions.

Another longtime resident of Los Lagos who spoke to Amandala on condition of anonymity said that the area representatives of the United Democratic Party don’t do anything in Los Lagos, because most of the residents are registered elsewhere. That is true of the former UDP Minister of State, Michael Hutchinson, and it will be true of newly elected UDP area representative, Hon. Beverly Castillo. Carlos Enrique Mendoza, a businessman who moved to Los Lagos a little over 15 years ago, told Amandala today that since he moved there and Johnson International paved the streets, nothing has been done to maintain the streets. Los Lagos is a beautiful place and I know the capacity of it, Mendoza explained. Mendoza said it might have been around 2001 when the streets were paved, but after that no one has done anything to upkeep the streets.

According to Mendoza, the streets began to break up from around 2009 and no one had paid any attention to them. Mendoza said that in 2013 about 15 residents banded together to raise money to assist in filling the streets that were breaking up.

“I just went to them and spoke to them to see if we could come together to create some funds and start to fix the streets.”

Mendoza said they raised $2,000 and the area representative at the time, Hon. Dolores Balderamos-Garcia (PUP), gave them $500.

With that money, we brought about 6 loads of river stone from Mr. Cattouse to fill the streets, Mendoza said.

Mendoza said that he had spoken to the new area representative, Hon. Beverly Castillo, around Christmas time.

“My idea was for her to try to have a meeting with the community. You have 257 houses and we have do so many things for Los Lagos, Mendoza said.

Mendoza told a story of how one evening when he was returning home from work, he met a woman who was driving a Honda Civic car. He said that woman was stuck in one of the giant potholes and the front bumper of the car was damaged when it dropped into the hole. “She was afraid to move the car from out of the big crater. This car was in the hole and the bumper was torn. If you don’t have a 4×4 pickup, you can’t drive in the back of Los Lagos,” Mendoza said.

He also explained that the drains of Los Lagos are clogged, and if there is a large downpour of rain such as what happened in Belize City last October, there is nowhere for the water to run off. It will be a disaster for us. The drains are beautiful when they are cleared, Mendoza said.

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