Demolition of the old Belize City Center proceeds on pace but Belizeans have not seen a plan for the $30-million replacement promised by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in his Independence Day address. On Friday at the site we met with member of the board of directors of Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), the company set up by Government to oversee a number of special projects around the country, Paul Thompson. According to Mr Thompson, who also heads the Belize Basketball Federation (BBF), plans for the City Center and similar structures nationwide will follow a specific timeline.
Mr. Paul Thompson- Board of Directors, Belize Infrastructure Limited
“As far as I understand, this is how the process will work: Area representatives of municipalities across the country will come up with a concept of what their constituency wants. What will happen then is they will take it to BIL and then BIL will endorse it or not…and we will put to tender who is going to draw and who is going to design this. And then, also, what we will put to tender is the construction and the time. They will oversee that process. At present, we have a facility in Orange Walk that’s a very good facility. That all that needs to upgrade to international standards would be to put in air conditioning, and to put in a wooden floor. For example, we have a structure in place at this moment for us to reach that level in terms of City Center and everywhere else. That all depends on how this process works with the concept and sending out the architectural design and construction. So, there’s a window of, I would say, two to three years.
Paul Thompson says the International Association of Basketball Federations, (FIBA), is prepared to assist.
Mr. Paul Thompson
“I believe that’s where my presence on this board as the member of the Basketball Federation can assist because FIBA has resources and FIBA can provide us with institutional knowledge about what are the requirements to have a multipurpose facility that can house international competition and international events. So, it is my hope that we will top into that resource from FIBA and provide Belize with a facility that‘s first class and FIBA certify”.
But is it right to leave the fate of these projects in the hands of short-sighted politicians? Paul Thompson explains what sports federations like his will try to do to avoid that from taking place.
Mr. Paul Thompson
“Well, as I said, the functions and the roles are this: the area representatives for these municipalities will come up with the concept. We will oversee the design and construction. So, you know, if it is that there comes a time when our area representatives say they want a roll a poster, well obviously, the Board of BIL will not say we’re not trying to develop one BIL stunt men or stunt women. We want to develop athletes. So, in a case like that, then that’s obvious. Now, this bill is set up to do sporting facilities. So, we expect that whatever concept comes up, it will be sporting facilities; football fields, multipurpose center that can house volleyball and basketball or attract, you know? We expect its fourteen facilities.”