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Nov 11, 2014

Ministry of Works Pulls Plug on Douglas Jones Canal Project

Work on Douglas Jones Street in Belize City came to an abrupt stop this morning. A letter from the Ministry of Works to the Flood Mitigation Project which in turn sub-contracts Medina Infrastructure Limited, informed that health and safety issues of workers were at the core of the decision. About seventy persons were employed; they have all been sent home. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.  

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Excavation across Douglas Jones Street, at its intersections with other traffic lanes, came to a screeching halt this morning when laborers in the area were served a letter from the Ministry of Works.  The notice, signed by Program Manager Rolando Chan of the Flood Mitigation Infrastructure Project, cited a number of health and safety concerns with the cleaning of a subterranean canal.

 

Chadwick Tingling, Supervisor

Chadwick Tingling

“The work should stop immediately due to health conditions and due to the stench, the smell of the debris that we are bringing up from out of the canal and that other business places are complaining as well.”

 

The project which is being administered by FMIP commenced about a week ago, employing dozens of young men to dig cavities across the thoroughfare.  The extent of the work will see adjacent drains being connected to the underground waterway.

 

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“Many of the municipal works that are going on are being implemented by different agencies.  The Flood Mitigation [Infrastructure] Project is being implemented by the Ministry of Works.  There is a project steering committee which has stakeholder participation from all the participating agencies, including the city council.  So we’re very, we work very closely with the director of that project Mr. Chan.  We cooperate very closely with them [and] there are some technical aspects of it which has to do with the capacity building of the municipality, procuring equipment for the municipality and of course we want these infrastructures to finish very soon.”

 

Darrell Bradley

While the idea is to conclude without delay, the temporary interruption is attributed in part to the fact that there is currently no suitable procedure for cleaning works.

 

Chadwick Tingling

“The scent is awful and like yoh noh sih di sludge dehn di move, if you tek ah look down that side you can see all the sludge on the side of the street, you know.  So, I mean, it just takes time for us to move all these things but due to the condition of not moving them too fast, I think, I’m not too sure what so say.”

 

In addition, the workmen hired by Medina’s Construction Ltd. aren’t being provided with personnel protective equipment needed for the job.  According to Mayor Bradley, occupational hazards are the responsibility of the subcontractor.

 

Darrell Bradley

“Issues as it relates to the safety of workers has to do with the subcontractor.  There’s a private company that’s implementing that, I’m not aware of any issue that has been brought to my attention in relation to the type of equipment that the workers are using.  I do know that the contractor who is working there is one of the best contractors in this entire country and they routinely do international projects.  And, of course, when you are dealing with international funds they have their own funding requirements.  Medina’s Construction has built many of our streets and I would go on record to say that they are one of the best.”

 

Chadwick Tingling who, up until this morning, supervised a gang of men, says they are totally ill-equipped for the task at hand.

 

Chadwick Tingling

“Some of our men aren’t equipped enough to do this job the right way.  They don’t have the right attire to go into these holes, you know.  Some of them go in barefooted and, you know, it’s a serious job because if they catch mud itch or those types of stuff it can get or fatal or who knows, you know.”

 

At the heart of the issue for these laid off workers is their livelihoods.

 

Worker

“I noh know how long dis gwein ahn and why dis di go ahn.  Dehn complain that businesses di complain, dehn complain dat di sanitation thing and thing… Why dehn noh just try find wahn solution fi it.  If dehn got we pan wahn hold like dis and got we pan wahn pause like dis fu like what, wahn week, two, maybe wahn month, you noh think other business areas wahn feel it like that?  You noh think that we wahn feel it also because we got pickney fi mind, we got house rent, we got bills.  We da big man.”

 

For its part, FMIP convened an urgent meeting this afternoon to evaluate conditions, as well as to establish an appropriate working system before resuming work on the Douglas Jones Canal. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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2 Responses for “Ministry of Works Pulls Plug on Douglas Jones Canal Project”

  1. Louisville, Ky. says:

    What the relevant authorities need to do is ensure that the workers have adequate working gears and utensils.
    Progress will always bring problems, to quote George Cadle, so the residents that are complaining about the ‘stinkness’ have to make their minds up whether or not a few hours of offensive odor is not worth flood alleviation. Listen society pipple, you can’t have yu cake and eat it, okay!
    Not only that. Most importantly, their complaining is cramping ghetto youth hustle. They should be impressed that instead of resorting to criminal activities, these marginalized young men are gainfully employed, literally by the sweat of their brows.
    Nothing but a sense of pride overcame me the way they agitated to keep their employment, primarily because they have bills to pay and dependents waiting at home for the little sustenance.
    Maximum Respect to Ghetto Youth!!

  2. landi says:

    Get the youth the equipment needed and get the project going and completed. Do not find fault but find solutions and let us work. I am tired of people fault finding and stopping progress. One or two complain but those seem to be the majority. I live around there and I am happy to see that something is being done to fix a problem. Why stop it. What we should look into also is to see how we can educate our people about not littering the streets and having the drains clogged. How to protect our dead river. all the filth from the city is emptied here by people who maybe do not know any better. Ask the boat men that use the river what its like there.

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