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M.I.D.H. & Belize Central Prison Work Together to Improve Road Safety

Sep 4, 2023

M.I.D.H. & Belize Central Prison Work Together to Improve Road Safety

The brushes that impair visibility for drivers around curves on the nation’s highways are being eliminated through a joint effort by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and the Kolbe Foundation. And just in case the thought of prisoners armed with machetes along the highways make you wonder about public safety, prison officials say you need not worry. The inmates who are being used in the program have a degree of trust and have shown the desire to change and to serve the community that they have offended. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.

Marion Ali, Reporting

Drivers who have long complained about the lack of visibility around sharp curves on the highways will breathe a sigh of relief at the news that those brushes that once obscured your vision are being removed. Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O of the Kolbe Foundation which manages the Belize Central Prison, explained that the initiative was agreed upon by the Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing, Julius Espat and Executive Member of the Kolbe Foundation, Francis Woods.

Virgilio Murillo

Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Kolbe Foundation

“We were given the task to chop the road sides on both sides of the highway. We started with the Burrell Boom section from the Burrell Boom Bridge all the way to the Hattieville junction where the round-about is. We’re cutting anywhere from – we’re bushing anywhere from 12 feet to 18 feet from the road edge.”

Civil Engineer with the Ministry of Infrastructure Development Allan Garcia, says the Ministry wants to similarly improve the visibility on all of the country’s highways.

Allan Garcia

Allan Garcia, Civil Engineer, Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing

“Currently, we are trying to bring back the standards of our highways, you know, increase the visibility for safety for the drivers. And overall, it’s something necessary, you know. You could see here, before you couldn’t see past this curve. And this, some people would call a dangerous curve. Now you can see straight across. And that’s the initiative that we want to do for all our highways right now.”

And just in case you were wondering how safe the public will be with machete-wielding prisoners along the highways, C.E.O of the Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo says they are non-violent offenders.

Virgilio Murillo

“They’re carefully selected. Certainly they have to be low-risk and certainly they would have had to be prisoners that are not getting into any prison rules violations, so-to-speak. They are certainly not violent prisoners, even if they have crimes of a violent nature. Certainly in prison their behavior and conduct is such that we see some level of trust in them.”

One of the inmates, Lenny Benguche, says doing this work gives them a chance to repay society for the wrongs they’ve done.

Lenny Benguche

Lenny Benguche, Inmate, Belize Central Prison

“We enjoy this program because actually we’re just helping the people and we’re giving back to society because of the things that we have done already and so we try to show our apology for that. We are sorry or what we have done so we give back to the society.”

Murillo says that fifty percent of whatever the prisoners earn from the work they do is set aside for when they leave the prison. Marion Ali for News Five.