Last week, PLUS News went to the site on Central American Boulevard near the Belcan Bridge and spoke to project manager Ms. Reina Gonzalez-Riverol, who manages a work crew of about 80 men. She told us that they are on schedule to finish the dismantling by mid-February.
“As you can see, we are almost done. Thank God it went as we had planned. Dismantling, we have about 10% left and about 25% of transportation of the same to Marion Jones. That is basically what is left for us to do: transporting everything and accommodating it at the Marion Jones Stadium. Presently, we finished removing all the A frames. We are bringing down the bleachers to take it out of the way for the demolition crew to come in. We do have four teams of 25 persons working on the demolition or the breaking of the floor. We have quite an amount of manpower, today. So, we have the rest of my guys to come in and break down the last of the Belize City Center”.
According to Mrs. Gonzalez-Riverol, the course of dismantling was slightly delayed by the wet and wild weather over the last few weeks, but there has been nothing out of place, and no serious injury to the crew.
Ms. Reina Gonzalez Riveroll: “We have been working as quick as possible; as you can see, we have been having a lot of breeze, cold front with a lot of winds. That was one of the biggest challenges that we have been having after our Christmas break when we came here, but it is down, we made it without any casualties, thank God. Our guys were very well prepared. We had like we said, safety, right? We have been fighting with this safety, safety, safety issue drilling it to all of my guys and we were successful”.
The replacement of the Center is the remit of Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL), the special purpose vehicle of the Ministry of Works. Most of the rotten beams and other pieces left over have been transferred to the site at Marion Jones Sporting Complex which is also under construction, but the basketball court brought in for the 1998 CARICOM Championship which Belize won has met an untimely end, as Gonzalez-Riverol explains.
Ms. Reina Gonzalez Riveroll: “We removed most of the facilities that we had. When they came to the bathroom, there were some furniture in there that we had to take out, some lights that the BDF used to use, and some spotlights. We took them out and it’s at Marion Jones. When it comes to the court, yes, it was there, but the base was in terrible condition; it could not be reused as a court. What we did is, we transported it to Marion Jones and we put it up, so that when we transport the vents, windows and zinc, it is built up, so that when it rains, the water doesn’t reach to the material. So, that is what is it mainly what we use it for because it could not be reused as a court at all; it was rotten, in very, very poor condition”.
The original version of the City Center was built in 1979 and was replaced by the now almost-dismantled structure, which was widely condemned for poor cooling facilities.