Screen_Shot_2014-02-04_at_6.37.37_PMWhile the problem of importation and exportation of goods at the Northern Border is finally resolved, the damage has been done and truth of the fact is it will take days before all the containers have been released. The 15 days interruption has caused a trickle effect on the economy of Belize with its rippling effects being felt by distributors down to the layman. Reporter Maria Novelo followed the story and filed this report.


Maria Novelo – Reporting


An unexpected shortage of cement has stunned the construction industry in the northern districts, delaying many projects; from small to large scale. And the present embargo is being blamed on the freezing of importing and exporting cargo trucks at the Mexican Border; where we understand, the license for trade of the broker agency, “Servicios Aduaneros Integrados,” has been suspended. It’s a suspension going on for fifteen days and today, the effects are being felt from the distributors to the average construction men, who are either unable to supply the cement or can’t build due to the shortage.


Vilma Cervantes– Owner, San Isidro Construction


“Since the 22nd that we have received a load of cement, we haven’t received any up to now and that is affecting my business very much because it is one of our main products, the business and it affects also our block making.”

 

Enrique Urbina Jr. – ASST. Director, Ricks Blocks And Tiles 


“We got report that nothing was crossing which was more typical of the Mexican side because from time to time we have that problem, later on the next couple of days we heard that there was a strike between the Mexican brokers and the government officials.  Every day there it the promise that it will get better, get better and every day is not betting better but getting worst so we here I am the maker of construction products, not only blocks but decorated block, banisters, inverted T-beams and everything that is associated with the construction and since this Thursday that went by I have ceased production because I cannot get cement from across the border.”

And while demand exceeds supply, thousands of dollars are being lost and many are out of jobs and production is at a standstill.

Enrique Urbina Jr. – ASST. Director, Ricks Blocks And Tiles 


“Every day we’re losing big, not only in the staff but in the sales that we have pending and we are facing a big loss yes.”


Vilma Cervantes– Owner, San Isidro Construction


“It concerns us very much but there is nothing much we can do except to wait on what will be the outcome.”

 

Maria Novelo – Reporter


“Who is your supplier and how much you getting every week?”


Vilma Cervantes– Owner, San Isidro Construction


“My supplier is Maya and we getting about three loads per week.”


Enrique Urbina Jr. – ASST. Director, Ricks Blocks And Tiles 


“My problem as a business person is that I don’t only depend on the cement but I am also the maker of Sky Pur Purified Waters and we do get our labels, our caps, our bottles from the Mexicans as well and all of that too has been stalled at the border as well so even that is a problem for me, if I happen to run our I will have another problem in my hands.”


Officially what we got from the Embassy of Mexico in Belize is that because it is a private matter, it does not concern the Mexican government. Many are hopeful for a resolution to the issue.


Vilma Cervantes– Owner, San Isidro Construction


“I just hope the situation improves so that we can supply our customers and continue giving them the best service we always do.”


Maria Novelo – Reporter


“Are you getting a lot of complains from your customer who are saying well, why don’t you have?”


Vilma Cervantes– Owner, San Isidro Construction


“Well, the customers understand the situation so we don’t have complained but everybody is very anxious to get the cement so that they can continue with their projects.”


Enrique Urbina Jr. – ASST. Ditector, RICKS BLOCKS AND TILES


“The economy is not doing so good at the moment, everyone is claiming for discounts and the competition is right behind you, this all the factors that we have to put in together to see what exactly we can do.  There is the option that we can probably negotiate with our supplier and how best we getting involve because right now it is only the Mexicans being involve but we don’t hear the Belizeans putting pressure on the issue and I think as the days goes by and the crisis continues to get big everyone will start running a little bit more worried than usual and I think action will have to be taken from the higher authorities.”


Because cement is a primary ingredient for making concrete, the shortfall could impact many more homebuilding projects, unemployment, business loss and put a dent in the revenues generated from the imports and exports of products to Belize. 


The ones taking the hardest hit are the small time contractors who as the saying in kriol goes, ‘ketch and kill’ to put bread on their table. Both of the major distributors we spoke with say so far, with each passing day, thousands of dollars are being lost.

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