Failure to maintain highway network could cost Belize US$3.3bn

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Failure to invest in the maintenance of Belize's road network could cost the country US$3.3bn, according to a report by the IDB.

On average, the cost of road repairs is some 20 times higher than the cost of sustained maintenance. As a result, if the country's 3,281km road network is allowed to deteriorate "the replacement cost would be US$3.3bn," according to the report on the Belize transport sector.

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Failure to maintain the country's roads could become a constraint on future investment, particularly in the agricultural sector that depends on rural transport.

A 2011 study found that the road sector received an average of US$15mn less than was required each year to maintain infrastructure.

Belize ranks 123 out of 142 countries worldwide in terms of infrastructure quality, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness report. The country scores particularly poorly in road infrastructure, well below its Central American and Caribbean counterparts.

Only 20% of the country's road network is paved and the percentage of the network considered in poor to bad condition rose to almost 60% this year.

In order to improve the road network, IDB recommends the creation of a road maintenance fund, the introduction of a road maintenance fee for all road users or the potential involvement of the private sector in fixed maintenance contracts.