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Oct 23, 2014

Dangriga Market Finally Opens

It took two and half years to complete, but the Dangriga market was finally officially opened for business this morning. The project has a price tag of one point eight million dollars, more than what it was projected to cost. And as we said earlier, the stench of corruption wafted through the project causing considerable delays in its completion. Today, however, the upgraded facility can accommodate food, vegetable and fruit vendors.  Duane Moody has a report.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Residents of Dangriga can now boast a marketplace retrofitted with a new fish section, new windows, additional stalls and parking lot.  The newly renovated and expanded Dangriga Marketplace was official inaugurated, and the keys to the building handed over to the Town Council after delays and various contracts. The final cost is one million eight hundred and forty-three thousand four hundred and nineteen dollars and sixty-seven cents.

 

Gilbert Swaso, Mayor, Dangriga

Gilbert Swaso

“We are also seeing now, yes an extension with upgrades and it is very much welcomed. Today, we are looking at our old structure that was fully functional have some improved upgrades. We are also seeing a new basic bungalow compartmentalized brick structure. When you take a walk, note for yourself…there is nothing state of the art. No air-conditioning, no refrigeration unit, no tiled floor, no rack for the vendors to weigh their product.”

 

The project has not been without its controversies. It took two years to build the facilities. The refurbishing of the marketplace was initially to be done at a cost of one point four million dollars, by Corozal contractor, Kenard Smart. But after eight hundred thousand dollars of that money was disbursed to Smart, the project came to a stop in September 2013 following allegations of corruption within Social Investment Fund. Several persons including the Executive Director of SIF were replaced and a new contract was signed with CB Construction of Cayo. Approximately one million dollars later, the marketplace is finally ready. According to Minister Santiago Castillo Junior, the Dangriga marketplace is the largest infrastructure development under the government’s Belize Municipal Development Project.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr.

Santiago Castillo Jr., Minister of State, Finance & Economic Development

“Indeed it is a sweet and bitter occasion that I stand before you today as we gather to open the refurbished Dangriga Central Market for vendors and residents of Dangriga…and by extension surrounding communities. A market designed to propel the continued development of and improvements in the quality of life for the people in the cultural capital of Dangriga. Let me take this opportunity to offer my profound apology to the people of Dangriga for the inconvenience caused by the unfortunately delay in the completion of the market due to problems with the original contractor. I respectfully thank you for your patience. However man, in a construction, I’ve been in business for so long that I’ve had contractors weh tell me that wah building wah done fi two million and it end up two and a half million. And one could tell yo ih could build it fi half a million and the next one wah take eight hundred thousand to build it. yo could get eight banana fi dollar dah some vendors dah city, some wah give yo ten and wah only give yo six. That is the marketplace.”

 

The marketplace facility is now equipped with forty-four stalls for food, vegetable and fruit vendors as well as clothing stalls. The new space will provide the populace in that southern municipality with a conducive and healthier environment for them to socialize, while creating opportunities for small entrepreneurs to foster and enhance their livelihood.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr.

“It is designed to provide opportunities for all of you who have made the beautiful culture capital of the nation your home. Ladies and gentlemen, at this market, there is one thing I am sure will always be served free of cost and in abundance. It is the heart and soul of the community.”

 

Gilbert Swaso

“Let us today, in accepting this market—with the defects that will be rectified—let us commit that we shall do all that we can to ensure that our market will be well maintained. Ladies and gentlemen in accepting this market, let the healing process begin; let it commence. We are grateful for all the pain; we are grateful for the improved market that we are seeing. Our people deserves just that and more.”

 

In addition to Dangriga, other municipalities under the BMDP are Belmopan, Benque, San Ignacio and Santa Elena, Punta Gorda, Orange Walk and Corozal. Duane Moody for News Five.

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