7 News Belize

Maskall Making Strides For Water
posted (March 9, 2016)
Residents of the Maskall, mostly primary school children, today gathered at the grounds of what will soon become the site for the construction of the new village Water pump- an initiative that has been long overdue. Works have already begun but the ground breaking ceremony that was held today made official the commencement of this three part project. Present during the ceremony were executives of Social Investment Fund, and Government officials, including Area Representative Hon. Edmond Castro, who lives in the community, and Hugo Patt, the Minister of Rural Development.

The Hon. Hugo Patt - Minister of State in the Ministry of Natural Resources

"I come from a village as well, I come from the village of Pachakan and I can certainly recall back in 2008 when we inaugurated the water system that we have there. Many of us, we would not realise the importance of how much we need the water. I have been hearing from Mr. King and the response of the children of what it is they need the water for. Many of us who have the privilege of have the necessary utilities in terms or water, in terms of light, in terms of having access to infrastructure; we would underestimate the importance of having water. I could recall going with my bucket to the closest stream to try to get some water. Many of time we stop and reflect and we look at how we've been growing and when we look at a government that is serious about the development of a particular community, that is serious about the development of its country and which care about its people, these are the type of development that we have to look at."

The Hon. Edmond Castro - Area Representative Belize Rural North

"The first time we received a water system in Maskall that has become obsolete was in 1985 some 31 years ago under the then area representative Hon. Samuel Rhaburn. Now it’s a pleasure for us to now bring a new water system to the community. Since then the village has grown at least twice the size so that system is no longer good. So we are here and we are happy to be here delivering the goods and services to our people."

"It's about 3 different contracts we have for this specific sub-project. One is also to provide those materials that are there and those materials would then be installed along the road and up into people's yard which is a separate contract that we usually get the community to do the trenching and then supervising contractor who lays the pipe and make sure all the connections are in place and connecting the metres to the persons' home."

Ilda Swift - Chairperson, Maskall Water Board

"I am so glad and proud that the system is getting off the foot and because we really need this water to go on properly, that we can have to use it whenever we want. Because sometimes you go to bathe, when you get there the water isn’t pouring in the shower, you have to go outside and fill your bucket and go back in the bath. So it will be of a great use."

The Hon. Edmond Castro - Area Representative Belize Rural North

"I can recall not so long ago back in November the party had one of the best slogan, the best is yet to come. Well my people, we are here witnessing the best is here, we are about to start a new water project for the beautiful village of Maskall."

The project is budgeted at just under a million dollars. The contractors hope to have the new water system for the village of Maskall up and running by the end of the year.

But having access to water is one thing. Payment for that access to water is quite another. Just last year in September, residents called us to complain because their water had been cut. This was done by the village water board because they just could not meet the cost of maintenance- and villagers weren’t paying their bills. We understand as many as three quarters of all registered households in that community, were not meeting their monthly flat rate of $9 dollars. So how will this new system, which implements the use of a meter and is generally more expensive, affect payment? Today we asked the chairperson of the village water board just that.

Ilda Swift - Chairperson, Maskall Water Board

"It will be better because with the metre you can cut off easily if they don't pay. So I think it will be better, it will be more expensive because it will be more than 9 dollars but it will be better in the longer run."

Emanul Pech

"How has the response been from the villagers? Usually when a metre system which is a little more expensive is introduced to a community it’s not accepted just like that. Tell me what has been the response?"

Ilda Swift - Chairperson, Maskall Water Board

"Really I know some will be against and some will be glad for it. Well I personally want it if possible but that's the only way out of having the project run properly that we can manage the system."

After the construction of the reservoir in Maskall only three more villages, in all the 20-odd communities in Belize Rural North, will be left to receive some sort of water system upgrade since 2008. Today the area representative told us about the plans to upgrade the water system in those three remaining villages in his constituency.

The Hon. Edmond Castro - Area Representative Belize Rural North

"We're working on the water for Maypen, we're working on the water for Maypen, Boston and Bomba so basically 3 out of the 20 odd villages. Before I got elected only 5 villages had water out of 27. So you can do the math, only 5 had water before I got elected in 2008 and up to 2016 now only 3 village will be left to get water; that's Maypen, Boston and Bomba and we are working tirelessly to try to make sure that this year hopefully we start the project for Boston and see how we can connect Maypen from the Flower's Bank water system under the river, over the river so that Maypen can get their water and we will see how and what it will take for us to connect Bomba."

The works at the Maskall Village Reservoir are being financed through a loan with the Central Development Bank (CDB).

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