Photo: Mayor Bernard Wagner receives pantry donation from MOH
An overwhelming display of support and cooperation from partners in both the public and private sectors has continued to drive the Belize City Council’s cleanup campaign forward.
by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Nov. 9, 2022
Today, the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association (BSCFA) and Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, lent a helping hand to the Belize City Council as their Hurricane Lisa cleanup and recovery campaign continues. It was one of many displays of support and solidarity shown to the Council over the past few days, and Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner told AMANDALA that the association sent some fifty-five farmers—men and women—as well as heavy equipment to assist with clearing debris from the streets.
The equipment from the BSCFA, which includes four loaders, has helped CitCo make tremendous progress in moving debris out of the city. According to the Mayor, the council’s goal has been to remove approximately 200 truckloads of debris per day, and at this point in time, they have been right on target, having moved some 774 loads—equal to over twenty thousand tons of debris.
“We believe there is still a large amount of debris here in the city. And so we have extended our efforts for another twelve to fourteen days. And that is why we were so pleased when we received the call from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association president, Mr. Ortega, who along with Minister Mai said, ‘we want to come to Belize City—we want to be a part of this great show of support’,” he told us.
The machines, usually used to move cane, have been more than effective at removing fallen branches, trees, lumber, and other debris, for which the Mayor is grateful.
Our colleagues at KREM News caught up with the BSCFA and Minister Mai while they were at work on Baymen Avenue.
“The farmers of the country, I think, on a whole, are in solidarity with the people of Belize City, especially in these particular times. And I think that they realized that the assets that we have in Orange Walk, the equipment, could be used very well in Belize,” said Minister Mai.
Many of the farmers, had they not been in the city, would have been out in the fields tending to their crops. The chairman of BSCFA’s Committee of Management, Mr. Alfredo Ortega, says, however, that the cane farmers, seeing the news coverage of the destruction that Hurricane Lisa had brought to the Belize District, were moved to the point of wanting to help out directly.
“As you can see, with the loaders, it’s much faster to load the debris that is around,” said Ortega.
According to Minister Mai, the decision to propose using the cane farmers’ equipment for relief to Cabinet was inspired by a similar effort carried out in Mexico after a hurricane hit Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. With the aid of their cane farmers, the Mexicans were able to clean up all three areas within fifteen days.
The association is expected to be in the city for one day only, but according to the chairman, if the need arises, they may return tomorrow to help out as well.
Also on the ground on Baymen Avenue were Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Kareem Musa; the Leadership Intervention Unit (LIU); and Minister of Health, Hon. Kevin Bernard,
Following the passage of Hurricane Lisa, the Belize City Council was quick to implement its cleanup campaign, hitting the streets as early as Friday, and according to Mayor Wagner, this was made possible in no small part thanks to the quick response from the Prime Minister as well as the extensive list of partners that have been assisting the Council with manpower, machinery, and supplies, all pro bono.
Since then, the City has received tremendous support from both the public and private sectors. On Wednesday as well, the City Council received a donation of food pantries and cleaning supplies from the Minister of Health, which the Mayor says will certainly be put to good use.
“The relief efforts have to be about clearing debris, but now it also has to transition into relief and supplies and home assessment—assessing the damages and getting people’s lives back to normalcy,” he said.
Mayor Wagner also told AMANDALA that the Belize Tourism Board has pledged a donation of $50,000 for relief efforts.
Other partners that have been assisting the City Council with their cleanup campaign include CEMO; the Ministry of Infrastructure Development & Housing; NEMO; the town councils of Orange Walk, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, San Pedro, Dangriga, and Corozal; the Department of the Environment; the BDF; the National Fire Service; the Belize Coast Guard; Belize Youth Movement; CISCO Construction; RJB Construction; Imer Hernandez Construction; Belize Waste Control; Belize Solid Waste Management Authority; Teichroeb & Sons Ltd.; GEL Quarry Co. Ltd.; A&N Construction; Belize Roadway Construction Ltd. and Belize Water Services.