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Oct 19, 2017

Is Faber’s Road a Good Deal?

The dust has not settled yet on the controversial eight-million-dollar contract for work on Faber’s Road. The agreement was signed on Thursday and by Friday, execution began. It prompted the Prime Minister to bring out the consultant at the Ministry of Works, Avondale Moody, in defense. Still yet, there is that bit on the tendering process that many cannot countenance. Today, Isani Cayetano, looks at the works to be done on Faber’s Road.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The reconstruction of Faber’s Road, from its intersection with Central American Boulevard to its junction with the George Price Highway, is part of a planned program of work that falls within the ambit of the South Side Poverty Alleviation Project.  The undertaking includes the dredging of a canal from nearby Krooman Lagoon that will empty into the Caribbean Sea, as well as drainage along the carriageway.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“You’re talking about miles and miles, the carriageway on Faber’s Road itself is one point almost seven miles, but in terms of the lined canal that is being built from Krooman Lagoon to go all the way to the sea, so that those people don’t have to go through what they went through on the last occasion when there was flooding and the hurricane and the Deputy Prime Minister had to be scrambling to see how he could help so that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”

 

With a hefty price tag of roughly eight million dollars, the cost is the subject of much controversy.  Avondale Moody, a Chartered Professional Engineer who has been working as a consultant with the Ministry of Works for almost two decades, explains the costing.

 

Avondale Moody

Avondale Moody, Engineering Consultant

“So when you add those four items together: the road, the concrete drains, the outfall canal, the preliminary and general, you get seven point one million dollars, easy.  I don’t see how people could be saying that they could do it for three point five and four and five [million dollars].  Honestly, I really, really don’t know, I need them to come and tell me and justify to me how they could come up with that figure.  No matter which contractor you ask and I would suggest that you ask a reputable contractor, don’t ask any old contractor.  Honestly I’m just being real, those are the facts.  There’s nothing that we have blown out of proportion.”

 

While that figure may or may not be bloated, there are serious concerns whether taxpayers will indeed receive value for money.  Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley has built as many as one hundred and sixty-five concrete streets during his tenure, all with a budget of twenty million dollars.  He weighs in on the difference between the Faber’s Road project and the streets that CitCo built.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“My understanding is that it’s a very extensive project, so that having not seen any information in relation to the actual scope of works, what all will be involved I can’t give any kind of comment in relation to that. Many of the works that we did in Belize City involved only the carriageway so that if we would have done certain streets in Lake Independence, some of the works that we did involved drainage.  Drainage is quite expensive.  Not seeing anything in relation to the scope of works, I cannot comment on whether or not any particular price would be commensurate with what that work is.”

 

Portion of the overall expenditure, aside from the cost of labor and material, adds up to a little over half a million dollars.  That outlay includes insurance coverage.

 

Avondale Moody

“We have the preliminary and general items that are in the bill.  Those are normally included in the bill because those are items that the contractor has to do.  He has to mobilize, he has to demobilize.  He has to get insurances, he has to get bonds, he has to get advance payment bonds.  He has to get a surveyor.  So he has to protect the client which is the government and he has to protect himself, the equipment.  If anybody dies we are covered, the government is covered and those insurances cost.  If you check with the insurance company I think they run somewhere around two point five percent of the value of the contract for insurances.  So that’s a cost.  It’s not for free.  So you have to look at those costs as well and that bill came up to six hundred and seventeen thousand dollars.”

 

Notwithstanding issues of cost and the contractor hired to do the job, Prime Minister Barrow emphasizes the need for the project and all the benefits that the new Faber’s Road will bring to Port Loyola.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We hope today to set the record straight and demonstrate what a fine, necessary, above-board project this is, how it will employ two hundred south side people, inject new economic life into marginalized communities and greatly improve transportation and cost efficiencies, especially for exporters using the Belize City port.”

 

Darrell Bradley

“Every single morning when I go to work in the morning, I drive on Faber’s Road, that’s the way that I access the southern part of Albert Street, and I know of the potholes and I know of the deteriorating conditions personally from having driven the street on daily basis. So that it should not be lost in the conversation that that’s a good project.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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