Dangriga Market SUFFERS Another Delay

The Dangriga Municipal Market is dealt yet another blow. In a meeting with the new contractor, CB Contractor, of Cayo, the Belize Social Investment Fund and the Dangriga Town Council held in April 2014, the Dangriga Town Council was assured that the market would have been completed and handed over by Tuesday, 30 September, 2014. The month of October has started and the market has not been completed or handed over to SIF who would then hand it over to the Dangriga Town Council.

The Dangriga Town Council is indeed mindful of the contractor’s commitment to complete the project and to hand it over to SIF to, according the council, ‘stop the bleeding and punishment of the people of Dangriga’. The council is also mindful of the substantial work the contractor has done in the quest to completing the market. The underlying factor however, is the prolonged agony that continues to be inflicted upon the residents of Dangriga. The Dangriga municipal market is the life blood of Dangriga. In addition, it is an important economic hub for Dangriga. It is a cultural institution where there is much oral history and information that impacts positively on the market “goers”. The continued non-completion of the market reflects negatively on the landscape of Dangriga, where in almost every corner of the streets there are stalls, some of which are unsightly and risky for good health.

It is more than 2 years that the residents of Dangriga handed over a market that was in full use to SIF. It was in May 2012 that the beginning of the project was celebrated with a ceremony of great fanfare and pomp and circumstance and photo ops with the Minister of Economic Development, Hon. Santiago Castillo in attendance. He deputized the Prime Minister. This project was poorly thought out and badly managed. The Dangriga Town Council was forced to provide a temporary market area for the re-located vendors to avoid any injuries to the vendors who were supposed to continue operating from the market while the project was going on. Also the previous original contractor, Kenard Smart, also assured SIF and the residents of Dangriga that the market would be completed on the due date – July 2013. Instead, the project suffered numerous delays and the workmen also suffered undue long waits for wages and materials. Not surprising to the council and the residents of Dangriga, and those intimately involved, the project was terminated in early September 2013, when SIF took over the market site. This action and the bureaucracy set by the World Bank brought about horrible inconvenience to the residents of Dangriga. The process of selecting another contractor started again.

Meanwhile there was an effort to complete the market by another company led by Mr. and Mrs. Ramirez (Gush and Emy) and a Mr. Bailey, who were also financiers for the project. SIF had asked them to abandon the sight in late September, which they did.

The project took more than 200 days to restart. SIF nor the Government of Belize has apologized to the people of Dangriga, who suffered inconvenience and loss of income. Instead they behaved in a manner of don’t ask, don’t say attitude.

The Dangriga Town Council was able, however, to see through SIF’s attitude and braced for the worst which was already written on the wall. This is also notable in their attitude toward the non-implementation of the Phase 2 project. The council knew of SIF’s serious concern for the Phase 2 project which entails the asphalting of the Gadbsy Ramos and Trucking Boulevard streets in Dangriga. Without an explicit expression they are concerned that those streets are prone to flooding and that due to the infrequent inundation the project might not be worthwhile. SIF will have to prove otherwise. The idea of an environmental impact assessment was also quietly mentioned. This is certainly a red light since EIAs are very expensive undertaking.

According to SIF, this Phase 2 project is delayed. Of course there will be delays when there were serious concerns before the preliminary works started. They are saying that for reasons beyond their control, the project will start in January of 2015. Is this not politics being played by SIF? SIF will need to be brutally honest to the people of Dangriga on the status of Phase 2 Project and the Dangriga Town Market.

The Guardian