How IDB initiated supporting Belize’s public transport reform: a study tour leads to closer collaboration between Korea and Belize.
Optimizing and improving public transportation is essential to a country’s socio-economic development. As a continuation of the Comprehensive National Transport Master Plan of Belize funded by the IDB, a technical cooperation Capacity Building for Public Transport Reform was initiated in 2020 to support the Belize Government to implement the public transport reforms identified in the master plan and strengthen the institutional capacity for the transport planning.
As key part of this technical cooperation, Korea hosted the Belize Government for knowledge and technical transfer study tour. The Belize delegation of 9 Government officials traveled half the globe to Korea for a 5-day study tour, from November 21 to 25, 2022. The delegation, composed of high-level authorities including the Honorable Minister Rodwell Ferguson and Deputy Minister Gilroy Usher of Youth, Sports and Transport, as well as director-level officials from the Ministry of Transport, attended lectures and field visits to be inspired for the nation’s comprehensive transport reform.
Korea shared experience and knowledge in public transport development with Belize
With more than 10 million of daily passengers using Seoul public transport, Korea possesses an advanced public transit system connecting every corner of the metropolitan area of Seoul and Gyeonggi province with 22 metro lines and 438 bus routes. Having achieved significant evolution in its public transportation, Korea shared experience and expertise on how it embraced modern technology and systems. Through peer-to-peer learning from Korea, Belize officials developed tailor-made action plans to tackle challenges and elevate the modernization of the public transit system in their country.
The lectures entailed an overview of development history of public transport infrastructure; transport modes; transport policies; the use of technology; and trends in transportation of South Korea. Paradigm shift to future mobility was also presented by renowned experts, such as green mobility for electric and hydrogen vehicles, and mobility intelligence.
In addition, the participants enjoyed hands-on experience of various transport modes in South Korea, including the metro, bus, shared-mobility services and autonomous vehicles. They had opportunities to explore the core hubs for integrated traffic data management; such as, Seoul TOPIS (Seoul Transport Operation & Information Service), and National Transportation Information Center in Sejong City.
Belize and Korea will strengthen cooperation in the public transportation area
The study tour holds a significant meaning. It is a very first collaboration in the transport sector between the two countries through an IDB-funded project. To initiate and further accelerate the cooperation, meaningful encounters were made between relevant government officials of the two countries, which highlight the following meetings:
- Presentation on hydrogen mobility policy of Changwon City (November 21, 2022)
- Discussion session on future cooperation plans between Belize-Sejong City (November 23, 2022)
- Meeting between Hon. Minister Rodwell Ferguson and Dongsoo Ha, Deputy Minister of Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (November 25, 2022)
- Meeting between Hon. Minister Rodwell Ferguson and Hyunjae Jo, CEO of Korea Sports Promotion Foundation (November 25, 2022)
These meetings yielded fruitful results. Hon. Minister Rodwell Ferguson signed a MoU with the Korea National University of Transportation (KNUT) for a master’s or doctorate degree scholarship program in the transport or information technology sector. This agreement will hold a special meaning in the transportation sector of Belize; as professionals with a doctorate degree do not exist in the nation’s transport industry.
From the meeting with Korea Sports Promotion Foundation, Korea will review the possibility of adding Belize to the group of about 30 countries to send qualified candidates for a 2-year master’s program in a sports-related field.
Starting with the study tour, Korea and Belize will continue the conversations to enhance substantive cooperation in the field of public transportation. Further cooperation is expected in the modernization of public transport, bus fleet and terminal; as Belize Government has shown keen interest in Korea’s state-of-the-art bus facilities.