You probably remember the Dangriga Market - before Penner, Castro and the Airports Authority, that was the first corruption flare-up. Contractor Kennard Smart alleged that he had been "hustled" by senior staffers at the Social Investment Fund which was funding the market. After a quick review, the Contractor General recommended the dismissal of four senior staffers while the Executive Director was forced to resign.
That's all well and good for the anti-corruption effort, but it doesn't put the market anywhere nearer to completion - so vendors are still suffering losses and the residents have to live with a temporary market.
SIF is putting it back out to bid, but - as the old saying goes - while "di grass di grow the horse di starve". Today the Dangriga mayor lamented their long suffering without a market:...
Gilbert Swazo, Mayor - Dangriga
"The phase 2 project through consultation with the people of Dangriga - they selected that 1.2 miles of street which includes Dr. Miranda Crescent, the Gazbi Ramos Road and the Trucking Boulevard to be paved. That is what the people of Dangriga want. SIF is now stating that the minimum 4 hundred thousand dollars to complete the market will be subtracted from our phase 2 allocation. That is what they are saying. Essentially that means to me that the 1.2 miles will not be paved again but be reduced by $400 - $450 value whatever that is equal to in terms of works or miles on the ground."
"So then in my view the people on Dangriga continue to be treated unjustly. We have been punished for exercising our constitutional rights. It is our opinion that it is double jeopardy. We have lost our market. The market is the heart and soul of this community. We continue to be inconvenience, the vendors continue to lose 25% of their earnings and now the people of Dangriga will lose out of the street which they have selected from the phase 2 projects. That is double jeopardy; we have lost our market and we will lose some road. It is my humble opinion that the government of Belize is punishing and treating unequal."
Nadia Martin Caliz, President BNTU - Stann Creek
"As a citizen of Dangriga, look at our streets. Look at how you all treat the south because people here chose to go for the other party - talk about that. If you can focus on us in that negative light - focus on us to correct what is wrong in the south. That's how thief this country and you all just pump a lot of money in the city and you forget about the rest of us."
We intend to follow up with SIF tomorrow about this diverting of funds.