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Government proceeds with repairs to Philip Goldson Highway as Opposition questions priorities

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Posted: Saturday, February 5, 2022. 2:37 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Leader of the Opposition Moses “Shyne” Barrow questioned Government priorities at Friday’s sitting of the House of Representatives during the debate on the third supplementary allocation brought by the Briceño government in the current fiscal year.

And he raised the old saw of “can’t eat street” with regard to infrastructure: “It is a matter of priorities, and the priority right now is human development; COVID-19 relief, food and finances. Education – more money should be going to education and human development. The last time I was here I said, ‘not a dollar more for infrastructure’, and they came right back with more money for infrastructure. We can’t eat street – the same way you learned from the Right Honorable Prime Minister Said Musa, I learned from the member for Cayo South – we can’t eat street. We couldn’t eat street in 2019, or 2020, and we can’t eat street, highway or road in 2022.”

Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Julius Espat, rose to rebut, citing the ‘emergency’ of repairs to the retaining wall at Mile 7 on the Philip Goldson Highway which washed away due to the use of plastic sheet piling which was chosen over the sturdier metal or concrete variety despite recommendations by engineers.

Another section of 500 feet is at risk and will fail, he added, and the entire highway would fall apart if nothing was done.

“We did our analysis, we got cost estimates for the metal sheet piling and the concrete sheet piling. The metal sheet piling is only available right now in Dubai, to be honest with you, or somewhere in Europe where it would have taken a long time to reach Belize. And so, we opted for the concrete sheet piling, which can be fabricated in country and which has already been dealt with,” Espat said.

The Contractor General has given his approval and now due diligence was being done by coming to the House.

An additional $3.1 million was also approved for the building of the New Haulover Bridge in the adjoining area.

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