Update on Paving of the Southern Highway

The paving of Belize's worst main road, the Southern Highway, is finally underway, with about 8 miles near Punta Gorda actually surfaced, but when or even if the paving will be completed has been thrown in doubt by new controversies.

"Things are really looking up and one cannot help but feel encouraged when driving on the first eight miles," says Ashley Wallen, a Toledo resident.

A Costa Rican company has completed the paving of the stretch between the outskirts of PG northwest to the village of Cattle Landing. Reports are that the company, which has a contract to do the 14 miles to Big Fall, is doing a good job. Farther north, new bridges are being built, and the road has been widened and regraded.

The massive road improvement effort is being funded mostly by a series of loans and grants from Kuwait, Taiwan, Great Britain, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Recently, the status of the IAD loan has been questioned due to concerns by Toledo Maya groups and some environmentalists that the paving of part of the highway could threaten Mayan land rights and that the barrier reef could be negatively impacted due to increased logging, agricultural development, and population growth in the district as a result of the new road.

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