By: Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Thurs. May 12, 2022
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Tuesday, May 10, at Mile 59 of the Philip Goldson Highway to mark the commencement of work to upgrade a portion of the highway that stretches from Mile 24 in Biscayne village to the Corozal border, including the Remate Bypass.
The Philip Goldson Highway and Remate Bypass Upgrading Project is one of many projects being carried out by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development through funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which, combined with aid from the United Kingdom and funding from the Government of Belize, totals an estimated 114 million dollars.
During his keynote speech at the groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño, noted that the improvement of that stretch of road and the bypass will significantly raise the level of safety of traveling within the country, since 50 percent of fatal road traffic incidents which occurred in 2016 took place on the Philip Goldson Highway—a significant number of them occurring at the infamous Mameyal Curve.
“There is another significant benefit that will come when this bypass is completed, and that is safety. In 2016, a total of 101 road traffic fatalities were recorded, of which, just under 50 percent occurred here along the Philip Goldson Highway. And talking about these fatalities, part here, where we have all of these curves, probably is one of the most dangerous parts of any of the highways that we have in the country,” stated Hon. Briceño.
He went on to state, “Many of those who suffered serious injuries or suffered fatalities are among the economical age groups who fall between the ages of 15 and 64. The tragedy of their loss of friends and family is one important aspect, but the other is their untimely death correlates to an estimated cost of 150 million dollars in losses in economic possibilities.”
Enea Sermasi, Head of International Business Development for Politecnica Ingegneria and Architettura in Italy, which is spearheading the construction work, said that they and Belize had the same vision when it comes to construction projects and development.
“We’ve always had the same vision for construction projects, which is providing our services always focusing on the impacts and the consequences of the building environment on communities and their territories in order to guarantee and safeguard inclusive, resilient, and sustainable benefits to both of them. Connecting communities, creating infrastructures that foster growth, prosperity, and social equality while respecting the environment and people’s wellbeing is still our job and mission today,” he said.
Vice President of Operations for Project Development for the CDB, Issac Solomon, commented on the relationship the CDB has had with Belize as one of its founding members.
“CDB has been and remains a long-term partner of the government and people of Belize as they try to achieve their development objective. Belize is a founding member of the bank and 2022 marks the fifty-second year of operations. Since its inception, CDB has provided funding resources to Belize for improving agriculture, tourism, water and sanitation, electricity, transportation, housing, health, education, and citizen security. While the bank has had an impact on many sectors in Belize, a lot of our support has involved road infrastructure improvements. Since 1996, when we approved our first capital investment in the sector, we have provided approximately 330 million Belize dollars in loans and grant financing,” he said.
Over 55,000 individuals traverse the Philip Goldson Highway daily and will benefit from improved safety when the upgrade, which is projected to reach completion in late 2023, is done, and it is expected that the upgrade will generate increased economic activity for the 45,000 residents of Corozal, Orange Walk, and other northern communities.