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Repaving of Corozal Free Zone Access Road to start in December to the tune of $2.98 million

Posted: Friday, November 10, 2023. 4:27 pm CST.

Corozal Free Zone access road – Photo Credit: MAFSE

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Work on rehabilitating the 1.6-kilometre Corozal Free Zone (CFZ) access road, from the Santa Elena Bridge to the CFZ, should be starting in the first week in December.

On Thursday, the $2,984,581.31 contract for paving of the CFZ access road was signed by Minister of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai, the Ministry of Economic Development’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Osmond Martinez, and Rommel Berges of RJB Construction Company Ltd, at a ceremony at the CFZ conference facilities at the northern border with Mexico.

“This project is a significant milestone that will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the Corozal Free Zone, its businesses, and our country as a whole,” the CFZ said in a press release.

“The existing road from the Santa Elena bridge to the Corozal Free Zone was deteriorating and had limited capacity, obstructing the seamless flow of goods and people. As stewards of this project, we took on the responsibility of finding a solution. We were immensely grateful and fortunate to initiate a collaboration with CABEI early in 2021.”

Signing of Corozal Free Zone access road contract – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

Keynote speaker at the contract signing ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai praised the work done to get the project underway, said a statement on social media by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise (MAFSE).

For his part, Minister of Defence and Border Security Florencio Marin Jr. said the infrastructure project would provide work for more than 1,500 workers.

Dr Martinez said the project is being funded by a grant from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration, CABEI, at some 2 million dollars. The Government of Belize is footing the remaining $0.98 million.

CFZ Chief Executive Officer Neri Martinez said the CFZ is looking forward to other upcoming projects, including connection to the BWSL system to bring quality potable water to the CFZ.

Corozal Free Zone access road – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

MAFSE said the Corozal Free Zone, which contributes some 13% to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, is visited by more than 1.1 million visitors per year. At present, the CFZ comprises over 300 businesses and employs 1,500 workers.

MAFSE said RJB Construction Company Ltd was awarded the contract in an open tender process approved by the Contractor General.

“The Corozal Free Zone has long been a vital hub for trade and commerce, not just for Belizeans but also for foreigners from all over the world,” said the CFZ.

“It has been instrumental in boosting economic growth and job opportunities for our people. Many investors now view our country as home as the Corozal Free Zone has allowed them to prosper, invest, and learn from our cultures and traditions. However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.”

Keynote speaker at the contract signing ceremony, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise Jose Abelardo Mai  – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

The CFZ recounts that after its establishment in 1995, the Corozal Free Zone went through period of unprecedented growth in the early 2000s as countless Mexicans, by the busloads, visited the vibrant business hub, but said business had dwindled “due to, changes in administration, increased competition on the Mexican side, changes in the social fee regime, and inadequate infrastructure, particularly in the northern side of the zone.”

The CFZ said this was compounded by a Free Zone which in November 2021, when the new government took over, “was inaccessible to the public, burdened by insurmountable debt, and plagued by neglected facilities, all amidst a menacing pandemic.”

The expectation is that the rehabilitated access road will help in attracting more business to the Corozal Free Zone.

“This transformative undertaking, funded in element through a grant from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and the Government of Belize, is ready to redefine the landscape of our community and propel us into a brand-new generation of business,” the CFZ statement said.

“The undertaking is poised to stimulate financial increase by enhancing the accessibility of the Corozal Free Zone. A nicely maintained and current right of entry to the street will appeal to new and existing buyers, create jobs, and contribute extensively to the local financial system.

Corozal Free Zone offices – (Photo Credit: MAFSE)

 

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