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Screen_Shot_2014-11-14_at_8.08.52_PMYesterday the European Union and the Government officially opened three newly rehabilitated roads in the Corozal District and broke ground for a fourth in Orange Walk under the Rural Road Rehabilitation Project funded by the E.U.

But while the roads in Corozal are now open to the public and work will soon commence on the 21.4km road from August Pine Ridge to Blue Creek, work is yet to commence on the San Estevan Progresso Road.

In a press conference held at the end of July, Prime Minister Dean Barrow indicated that the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Economic Development personnel met with the contractors that week to address the matter. The PM said that while he was not personally at the meeting, he was told that the purpose of the meeting was to cancel the sub contract with the contractors, who were listed as the Bella Vista Development Co Ltd and Lopez Equipment Co Ltd due to continuous delays even after monies had been allocated. Here is what he told the media at that conference.

Dean Barrow – Prime Minister of Belize

“It was accepted that a sort of funding is now in place that would allow the contractors to go forward and get the work done being given yet another chance, I wasn’t at that meeting I trust the official and I know the EU is usually an organization that acts with alacrity in terms of finding things wrong amounting to cancel contracts and my god all sorts of things wrong, but of course if the contracts have been cancelled looking at the entire tendering process all over again so matters would have delayed for at least another six to nine months, the officials are satisfied that the contractors can finally get their act together and proceed immediately with the work and I have to accept that perhaps it is the better thing to have given a second chance, a third change or whatever the case be but that was the decision taken after the review by all parties concern.”

That was at the end of July. We are now in the middle of November and still there is no sign of work getting started on that stretch of road. In his address yesterday, the DPM said they are dissatisfied with the delays.

Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister

“We want to express our utmost disappointment with the slow progress of works on the Orange Walk to Progresso road which commenced in November of 2012 and should have been competed in December 2014, the less than acceptable progress has brought endless suffering to the people of Progresso and San Estevan especially and it is a source of embarrassment for the Government of Belize, the European Union and sugar industry stakeholders, it is incumbent therefore on executing agencies to ensure that said road is completed and complete to satisfaction and within a reasonable timeframe.”

The project is expected to be concluded in July of next year. It is being funded by the European Union. The project which was estimated to cost about twelve point five million dollars includes the paving of the road from Orange Walk Town to Progresso with all necessary drainage and signage. That was to have begun in 2012 but about two years after, the project has still not seen much progress. That should have been completed in May last year but so far all that has been done is some slight upgrade to alleviate the badly damaged areas caused by rains last year.

But that is not the only situation that Vega says has been problematic. The first phase of the road from Orange Walk to Blue Creek has also posed problems.

Gaspar Vega – Deputy Prime Minister

“The Government of Belize wishes to express it satisfaction with the progress and quality of works of phase two of this road; San Lazaro to August Pine Ridge which started in June of 2013 and it is virtually completed with only road furniture as they call it left to install it is scheduled for completion next month December of this 2014, unfortunately the same cannot be said for phase one from the outskirts or Orange Walk Town to San Lazaro which commenced in January of 2011 and was scheduled for completion in January of 2012, the new extended completion date for this road is December of 2014 some three years later.”

The rehabilitation of the road in Southern Orange Walk is scheduled for completion within eighteen months.

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