Beautiful Belize: Land of the free by the Carib Sea! The chorus line from the Belizean national anthem aptly describes this tranquil tropical paradise. Located on the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize shares a border with Mexico in the north and Guatemala in the west. Once part of the great Mayan Empire, Belize is now an eclectic mix of several diverse cultures.
Belizeans are very passionate about sport despite limited funding and a lack of sporting facilities. The Government of Belize (GOB) has begun addressing this problem through several capital projects, creating sport and recreation infrastructure throughout the country. In 2012, the GOB decided to form a public company to act its agent to undertake the design, construction and management of capital projects in Belize. Initial emphasis was placed on sporting and other multipurpose facilities targeting at least one initiative in each municipality, the largest being the rebuilding of the Belize City Center.
Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL)
Belize Infrastructure Limited (BIL) is the GOB’s executing agency with the overall responsibility to bring each project to fruition, from start to finish. A community engagement process began in late 2013 with each Municipality, assessing their needs and guiding them in the repurposing process for their existing sport facilities or assisting them in envisioning new facilities to fill certain gaps within their sporting services. BIL would then create the Terms of Reference for the project envisioned in order to procure the design team. Once the design was complete, BIL would continue to procure the construction team and follow through with the assisted supervision and necessary project management.
The advantages of this execution model are that an independent company with international procurement operational standards allow for the process to function outside the immediate realm of government interventions and bureaucracy. It functions with the full transparency, efficiency, quality and competitiveness of any private sector company and, most importantly, would function with expediency.
Creating Public Private Partnerships
In late 2014, it was announced that the portfolio of BIL would be expanded to act as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) UNIT for the GOB, bringing private sector partners to the table and driving community infrastructure benefits as well as a wider range of sector services delivery partnered with private sector monies to grow the economy. The GOB has established priority projects in all sectors of Government within its recent five-year Manifesto, inclusive of large scale capital investments that vary from significant pieces of infrastructure to upgrading of services, physical and social.
Christy Mastry, General Manager of BIL, believes that the future PPP opportunities will allow the private sector to come to the investment table in a wide array of sector development. She said that despite all its challenges, there is still no better partner that the Government who certainly is committed to its country. BIL, as an already established development company successfully procuring capital projects throughout the country, is currently poised to expand its procurement model into public private partnerships with capacity building through past regional IFI assistance, using this wider reaching advanced contracting model.
The Board of Directors of BIL are a productive mix of public and private sector allowing for expedient and effective decision-making with full awareness of the benefits, challenges and opportunities for each sector involved.
The seven local Municipalities remain engaged in the project design, construction and handover through details Operations and Management contracts. They have an ongoing commitment to take these projects into their inventory to enhance community activities, youth sporting, build revenue stream and commitment to the ongoing maintenance and sustainability of the project.
BIL also engages with the Ministries of Sports, Finance and Works as well as the National and Local sports councils where sporting projects are being delivered to ensure the ongoing efforts of building youth sporting opportunities through these projects.
Promoting the use of local contractors
BIL ensures that the procurement of licensed professionals from the Association of Professional Architects of Belize (APAB) and the Association of Professional Engineers of Belize (APEB) are included for all design work put out to bid. This extended to the procurement for the General Contractor as well with criteria set for projects of comparable size, scale and nature as well as criteria for local participation to ensure the work was spread throughout the country by qualifying firms.
Mastry believes that this set up has realised savings by alleviating internal capacity costs. The savings allow for more funds to be channeled to the projects and an investment in local professionals and specialized consultants. BIL staff also benefits from the exchange of specialized knowledge and skills. Local contractors were used creating much needed employment. Below are some of the project partners:
- Falcon Field– the design/Build Contract for the construction rehabilitation of the Falcon Field Recreation Center and Facilities was awarded to Mr. Daniel Arguelles of International Environments Ltd from Belize City.
- Victor Galvez Stadium – The contract for the construction phase of the Victor Galvez Football Complex and Facilities awarded to Mr. Salvador Habet from BCG Ltd of Belize City.
- Isidoro Beaton Football Field – The construction contract was awarded to Mr. Pedro Lizarraga of Pedro R. Lizarraga & Sons Ltd of Red Creek, Cayo District.
- Carl Ramos Football Complex- The contract for the construction phase of the Carl Ramos Football Field and Facilities was awarded to Mr. Hubert Usher from Hubert L. Usher & Sons Ltd from the Stann Creek district.
- Belize City Center Arena and Cultural Complex -The contract for the construction phase has been awarded to the local JVCA of Medina’s Construction Ltd. / International Environments Ltd.
- Punta Gorda Sports Complex – The contract for consulting services and architectural design was awarded to Mahung and Partners Limited.
Sustainable recycling and reusing community spaces
The set of sporting projects – over 12 in total with a budget of BZD $60 million, are all brownfield sites with prior usage at some point in time by the community. All projects can reuse, recycle and adapt what was on the ground. Social recycling of significant community spaces led to the project’s significant success and the tremendous support from the end users before, during and after the construction completion.
Where finances allowed, material choice assisted in the sustainability with local material more readily available, LED lighting, and even simple well water technology for watering of the fields where necessary. The Belize CITY CENTER development implemented green technologies such as high-efficiency cooling systems, LED lighting controlled at variant levels of usage, steel frame technology, and superior insulating systems for minimal climate control usage. The main floor has been designed +14ft above grade to serve as a disaster shelter from storm surge, a water collection, and cistern system has been incorporated into the foundation providing grey water as needed for the building, as well as back up water supply for disaster scenarios.
With the completion of the sporting projects, the Government sees the growth of the country through private partnerships as its next advanced challenge for the office of BIL. Over the past two years, the Lake Independence Master Plan has been in development, planning the area as a mixed-use district. The Plan is expected to generate over +220,000 Gross Square Feet on government-owned parcels alone that will be held together by a cohesive public space network that offers a range of environments and public amenities with a road system appropriate to the user groups of the area inter-connecting all adjacent private land in the Plan. This will be the next phase of development to come and hopefully another success story for the country of Belize.
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