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Nov 9, 2017

Accountability in the Tendering Process for Roadwork

The City Council, under the tenure of Darrell Bradley, has concreted one hundred and sixty streets across the city. The council invested twenty million dollars on the massive undertaking. That figure keeps popping up because Government is spending as much as eight million dollars for approximately a mile of work on Faber’s Road. Now, no one is arguing about the need for the works, but most people are skeptical about the cost and, indeed, if residents will be getting bang for their buck. Mayor Darrell Bradley today said that City Hall had considered the road project, but abandoned the idea because it did not have the funds. The mayor agrees that Faber Roads is in a deplorable condition, but also that the government needs to be transparent and accountable in the tendering process as well as in other aspects of the project. He says it is all in the Anti-Corruption Convention which Belize signed on to in December of 2016.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“I can’t speak in relation to the cost-effectiveness of the project because I would have to be aware of the contract and the detailed particulars. I can say though that the larger question of accountability in governance is something that we need to address. And I think that people were readily and I would say to a certain degree rightly suspicious. One of the things that one can do in those circumstances is one can put forward a contract, one can put forward a process to say that this is how we arrived at the best price for these particular works so that you have that level of transparency and public review of the process. And this is not a party political issue; this is something that crosses party lines. But people in Belize need to have that level of confidence to say that whenever works are executed, it would be of the highest quality. We were going to do the carriage way, but if I could recall it wasn’t a significant amount of money, but we were going to do the carriage way. And in terms of a cement carriage way, I understand that this project will be eight inches; we were looking at six inches. And to the extent that they would do drainage, drainage is very expensive so that if you do boxed drains, that is costly and in some contracts, the drains could be as much as the carriage way. So it is very difficult for one to do an assessment like that. One of the projects that we would do—even though if it is the same street, a comparison cannot be made of our value and their value because the scope of work, the extent of the project, would be different. What I am saying though is that people should not have to guess; that there should be mechanisms in place for there to be transparency in the award of government contracts.  I think a lot of times we speak about accountability and transparency, and we don’t look at the systemic issues that are in place. One of the things that the United Nations Convention Against Corruption speaks about is meritocracy in the public service; it speaks a little bit about campaign finance reform and it speaks about the tendering process. There’s a reason why that’s in there because you are not really looking at an individual politician, but you are looking at systematic ways that you could improve the performance of government.”

 

According to Bradley, CitCo will be signing a contract to upgrade eight additional streets including Cemetery Lane, Eerie, Raccoon and Gibnut Streets as well as the completion of East and West Canals.

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