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Water commission hits back at Holbox hotels

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Holbox is struggling to maintain basic services. Photo: La Jornada Maya

Holbox, Q. Roo — After shutting down island access to protest infrastructure problems, some hotels owners are being hit back.

Numerous hotels are deliberately under-paying their water and sewer bills, the Quintana Roo Water and Sewerage Commission charged on Wednesday.

At least 30 of the island’s 70 boutique hotels are registered as private homes, paying a cheaper rate, said Gerardo Mora Vallejo, director of the utility.

Holbox has evolved into a “hammock-on-the-beach” summer haven, a car-free island popular with romance travelers seeking an off-the-beaten path destination.

The destination is also a jumping-off point for whale shark tours, which run in late summer.

But its rapid growth has been a challenge for the tiny atoll.

Plagued by failing sewage and water systems, as well as unreliable electrical power, Holbox was hit with nearly 20 power failures just last week.

But when it comes to basic services, resources are low, says Mora Vallejo.

He recalled that the last two holidays, the end of the year and Holy Week, the infrastructure held together, but then came summer. In one day 7,000 people visited, overwhelming the system.

Many of the island’s small, informal hotels were allowed to operate without a feasibility study, and connected to the network by its own means., Mora Vallejo said.

The Holbox Hotel Association went so far as temporarily shutting access to visitors on Sunday after citing a lack of water, draining issues and electrical supply issues.

“We lament the inconvenience that this causes; because to this day there is no guarantee of the basic services for you that visit the island and for those who inhabit it,” the Holbox Hotel Association wrote on its Facebook page.

The problem has reached the highest levels of state government.

“The governor’s instructions were to immediately address the problem of Holbox,” Alejandro Ramos Hernandez, director of the Secretariat of Infrastructure and Transport (Sintra), told Riviera Maya News.

“We have projected that by the end of the day they will have regularized electricity and drinking water service. In the meantime, we are continuing to supply water in pipes of 10,000 and 20,000 liter capacities,” said Ramos Hernandez.

An allocation of 44 million pesos for a hydraulic drainage system, 30 million pesos for sanitary drainage and 14 million pesos for storm drainage, was also reported.

Sources: La Jornada Maya, Riviera Maya News

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