Belize was until 1973 known as British Honduras. It is a Central American nation located on the eastern coast of the continent, which is also known as the Caribbean coast. It has a common border with Guatemala on the south and part of the west and Mexico to the north and part of the west. It has an estimated population of 274,000 inhabitants. The transportation industry in Belize faces major constraints in the form of a poor infrastructure. This has been partly blamed on austerity measures introduced by the government back in 2004 that led to the suspension of key capital projects. During the wet season, major roads and sections of the highways are subjected to closures due to possible damages. Big creek, Dangriga and Belize City port are the three major sea ports that serve Belize. The air transport industry is well developed with local and international air transport companies offering both local and international flights.
The trucking industry in Belize is pretty small compared to the US industry where 3.5 million truckers or truck drivers are responsible for hauling 10.2 billion freight tons annually. This represents 69 percent of the entire freight tonnage in the US according to the Department of Transportation (DOT). The Belizean Ministry of Works and Transport estimates that there are slightly over 3,000 truckers in the country. An overwhelming 80 percent are involved in the agricultural sector and particularly the sugar industry in one way or the other. Belize being relatively close to the US enjoys a higher population of US made trucks such as Peterbilt and Kenworth from Paccar, Navistar-International, Volvo and Mack from the Volvo group and Freightliner and Western Star from Daimler. There are also Japanese makes such as Mitsubishi and Isuzu.
How much do Truckers Earn in Belize?
According to the Ministry of Labor, Local Government, Rural Development and National Emergency Management, truckers in the small Central American republic earn anything from US$400 to US$800 a month which translates to BZ$800 to $1,600 (Belize dollars). This enables them to lead a pretty decent life since life in Belize is relatively cheap when compared to life in the states. Truck drivers can opt to spend the night in their cabs or rent out a room in the major towns which goes for BZ$ 20 for a night. Belize has been criticized for having outrageous fuel prices. This has something to do with their electricity which is considered to be one of the most expensive in the region. Fuel is sold in the US unit of gallon with a gallon of diesel going for anything from US$4.25 to US$5.15.
Apart from the fuel prices being high in Belize, the country has an estimated 50 gas stations spread throughout the country. So, you don’t want to drive around the countryside without spare fuel since the gas stations are quite spread out. Most of the fuel stations are operated by Esso, Shell and Texaco. The fuel can be paid for in US OR Belize dollars. In some stations, they accept major international credit cards. How do you Become a Trucker in Belize?
In the US, truckers drive trucks with a gross vehicle weight of over 33, 000lbs. These trucks are referred to as class 8 trucks. In Belize, truck drivers drive trucks of roughly the same weight although in some cases the trucks are not as huge. Driving licenses in this country are categorized in different classes ranging from Class A for private cars to AII for all types of motor vehicles. Truckers are required to have a class B3 license which is a special license for tandem drive vehicles—those that come with trailers. A practical test is mandatory before the issuance of the license.
Trucking routes with the heaviest traffic in Belize happen to be those ones leading out of the country into neighboring Guatemala and Mexico. The 85 mile long Northern highway is one such route which connects Belize with Mexico. It runs from Belize City through Corozal town all the way to the Mexican border at Chetumal. Sugar cane harvesting is done from late winter to late spring and the Northern highway is usually characterized by slow-moving trucks carrying tons of cane. This route is characterized by excellent gas availability and a road that is 100 percent paved and in good condition.
Western highway is 78 miles long and its starts from Belize City, passes through Hattieville, Belize zoo, Belmopan, San Ignacio, Santa Elena before joining the Benque Viejo road all the way to the border with Guatemala. The Western Highway is in pristine condition with 100 percent of its surface being paved. Gas availability for truckers is also excellent. The 56 mile long Hummingbird highway was in a terrible condition until recently. It joins up Belmopan with Dangriga. The name Hummingbird is used for 33 miles before the road becomes the Stann Creek Valley road. While it is in an excellent condition, it is wise to gas up near Dangrira or at Belmopan to avoid running out of fuel since gas availability on this route ranges from fair to poor. Points of Entry
Truckers in Belize have two major points of entry into the country that also serve as exit points. The first entry point is at Subteniente Lopez-Santa Elena towns which are located on the Mexico-Belize border point. The border crossing process is relatively easy. Once customs and immigration officials have approved your vehicle permit and stamped your passport, you just need to purchase insurance for the duration of your stay from the Insurance Corporation of Belize and you’ll be on your way. The vehicle permit is used in the vehicle importation process. The other point of entry is at Benque Viejo del Carmen-Melchor de Mencos border towns which are located on the Belize-Guatemala side of the border respectively. If you are exiting Belize, at either border points, you will be required to have your vehicle permit cancelled. This is done by Belize immigration officials who also stamp your passport. Apart from the roads being a bit leaner when compared with the ultra wide roads in the US, truckers in Belize should expect a pleasant experience.