Friday, August 29, 2008

The Northern Highway

What a disgrace the Northern Highway between Belize City and Ladyville has become. In fact, it has become the symbol for the sorry state of the country we live in.

When it is dry it becomes a dust bowl. When it is raining it becomes a swamp. In between, it is a mixture of potholes, badly patched tarmac, half-fixed tarmac and Indianapolis speedway for buses, taxis and blue plated vehicles. If this is not just like our country, what is? Everything is falling down, while the few elite breeze on through. GOB attempts to patch itself, but it keeps raining on them, and bigger holes soon appear. When it does stop raining, they are so relieved that they forget to work on the issues that cause the disrepair in the first place.

As we continue to dodge countless potholes and drive through chassis high salt water on a regular basis, we must wonder...are we really living in a country moving forward? Where are our priorities? And shouldn't the highest priority be to fix the one piece of road in the country that is not only the most driven, but the first stretch of road that visitors, investors and the IMF see? The people that keep Belize going.

We've thrown down millions for a now trash littered Marine Parade, but those tour buses still have to chug through the eyesore we call "Friendship Street". They still drive on the stretch of road that is a killing field for pedestrians and motorists. Several years ago, someone coined the term Kamikazi Junction. Well, this road should be called Snipers Alley. Every time you take a drive on this road, you are risking your life, dodging holes, vehicles, people, water and even the odd real bullet. Mostly we avoid all the perils, but occasionally we fall in that big new hole and never come out. Will Belize finally fall into a really big hole and never come out? Some would argue that we already have.

Lets fix the road, fix ourselves, and fix our country. We deserve it. Our children deserve it.


Democrates said...

I guess it is hard to argue with your analogy between the n. highway and Belize's own road toward socioeconomic development. Aside from the abundant potholes, another glaring, often understated deficiency about the Northern Highway is the lack of lighting. As one who frequents the road at night while traveling home, it is hard to see the occasional person who attempts to cross the road or the cyclist on the side. In such circumstances, drivers are often charged with negligence when they accidentally hit pedestrians on the road. However, the REAL negligence is committed by the government (or city council) because they have failed to provide adequate lighting for one of the busiest roads in the country.

Anonymous said...

CISCO has done a fantastic job with the Hummingbird Highway. Who are the the other road building contractors in Belize? Does anyone which company has done the most recent work on kamikazi junction/friendship road?

The Voice said...

I can say so much about this topic, from an engineering/construction POV and from an economic/governmental POV.

Without a doubt, the highway needs to be upgraded. But, let's look at the big picture for a second. The northern highway was the first to be paved... in the 50s? 60s? I can't be sure, I don't know where I'd be able to find the historical data. In recent years, the emphasis of highway construction has been trying to pave the unpaved. Like the Southern Highway, and the Placencia road.

So, personnel and equipment are tied up at least until those projects are done. Also, the Northern Hwy presents a unique engineering challenge. It is hard to build in swamp... the real solution is to lift the road with a network of gullies and drains running under, but when I tell you that it's expensive... it's EXPENSIVE!!

For now, all that can be done is a temp. fix to a big prob.

Anonymous said...

You know, having ur anguishes and complaints on a webpage won't do anything. These are just words ppl. if you seriously want something done, the only way to do it, is to have organization of the masses. A few ppl complaining wont get anything done. I like your views and opinions about developing Belize, but the fact of the matter is that developement can only be achieved if we are mobilized as ONE unit and not as individuals. Lets stop talking, and lets start DOING. Peace.

Anonymous said...

we need to know what we're talking about before we take action, or else we'll end up being a bunch of disorganized folks. That won't be nice. Dicussion is important. I mean, look the voice brought a great point, how can you take action with all the complexities involved?