San Pedro Mayor Daniel Guerrero has made it clear that the water taxi services will be moved to the international terminal that is located on the back side of the island along the Sunset Boardwalk and sports complex. It is just a matter of time when all the arrangement have been carried out to properly facilitate both companies running the water taxi service.
The Government of Belize enhanced the lagoon area with a new docking terminal with the intention for it to be put to good use. The $5.6MIL project was completed in 2014 but unfortunately the conditions at the terminal upon completion were not ideal for the water taxis to dock their larger vessels. This has made the job of the Town Council more difficult to relocate the two businesses to the back of the island.
This week the Town Council and Area Representative met up with water taxi representatives, Belize Port Authority, Department of Environment, Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Belize Coast Guard to commence arrangements and ease the transition of the water taxi services to the lagoon side of the island.
The group looked at the following issues:
- Map new route from Caye Caulker to San Pedro
- Avoiding the shallow channels on approaching the south of the island
- Considering/Assessing dredging certain areas
- Dredging around the terminal area to allow larger vessels to dock
- Upgrading terminal area to accommodate more passenger waiting areas, ticket booths, house both water taxi service services, expansion, among other minor issues
A proposed new route from Caye Caulker to San Pedro through the south channels would increase the total miles traveled from 13 to 16
Main concern of the water taxi services are longer travel time and increase in fuel costs due to longer routes to access the lagoon dock. This could mean an increase of 10 to 20 minutes travel time to Caye Caulker and an increase in fare for passengers. Another concern is that of boat/passenger safety due to shallow areas approaching the south end of Ambergris Caye and back lagoon.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Minister Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. assured the water taxi companies that their team will work quickly to assist with the fastest and smoothest transition to the lagoon terminal. They will look at dredging possibilities to allow for safer and deeper routes for the vessels and make improvements to the terminal to accommodate the water taxis and passengers. Projections of completing this transition phase should take about three months, according to Mayor Guerrero.
Local authorities know that the water taxi companies are a bit hesitant to make the transition, but they strongly believe that it will benefit the island by reducing traffic congestion on front street, alleviate taxi issues, clear up the beach area, improve safety travel issues, create a much needed manifest of water taxi passengers in case of accidents, beautify the lagoon Sunset Boardwalk and terminal and improve travel services to Ambergris Caye.
Assessing additional travel time through the back lagoon channels of Ambergris Caye
Officials measure the depth of various areas on new route possibilities