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Oct 18, 2017

P.M. Cites ‘Urgency’ for Pushing Fabers’ Road; Handled Negotiations Himself

Since the announcement last week, there has been growing public outcry over the awarding of another contract to Imer Hernandez, the family of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Gaspar Vega. This afternoon, Prime Minister Dean Barrow called a press conference seeking to quell the firestorm on the cost of the works as well as over the contractor who was given the eight-million-dollar contract for a mile of work on Faber’s Road. The P.M. opened his press conference with an explanation on how the decision was taken to undertake the work even though Phase Two of the Poverty Alleviation Project was not completed. In essence, the urgency and importance of the road, according to Barrow, pushed him to abandon the usual tendering and other processes. All this in light of the upcoming municipal elections.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We had a problem because we have still not yet concluded phase two of the South Side Poverty Alleviation Project and in the normal course you must conclude phase two before you can go to phase three, logical enough and there ought to be an audit at the end of phase two in order for you to transition to phase three.  Where we are with phase two, the estimate is that it will take perhaps another five to six months for us to conclude phase two and thus be able to move to phase three where would have naturally, as a first priority, sought to implement the Faber’s Road project under phase three.  But Faber’s Road is in such bad shape, it is such a critical artery to the port, used now by people not just from the south or from the west but from the north because they cut across the Chetumal Street Bridge.  The point I wished to make is this, the urgency of the need for action on Faber’s Road was such that I, in discussion with our mayoral aspirant for the city council elections and with the Cabinet, thought that we would have to try to find local funds to do a little bit of remedial work and I had actually solicited estimates from two contractors, and I discussed those estimates with Councilor Leslie, to do a portion of the road from the junction with Central American Boulevard to where the police booth is. I was saying, I thought well, government will have to try and find this money, this thing is critical.  And so I spoke to two contractors, even talked to them about financing, because it would have been eight hundred, nine hundred thousand dollars and I didn’t want to have to find that out of pocket.  Long story short, one contractor talked about doing it for ninety-eight dollars per square yard and financing it at twelve percent.  The other contractor, who was Imer Hernandez, said he could do it for ninety dollars per square yard and if he had to finance, he would finance at eight percent.  So I was about to have the Ministry of Works negotiate a contract with the said Imer, being substantially lower than the other contractor with whom I had spoken when Mr. Puga and Minister Boots Martinez who is an ex-minister of Works alerted me to the fact that Faber’s Road is provided for under Poverty Alleviation phase three.”

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