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Mar 23, 2018

Locked in by RJB, New Mayor Calls for Limits on Capital Projects

Bernard Wagner

RJB Construction Limited, a company owned and operated by U.D.P. insider Romel Berges, entered into a contractual arrangement with the Belize City Council months prior to former Mayor Darrell Bradley leaving office on February twenty-eighth.  The four-year agreement is for works to be done on a number of carriageways, including Raccoon and Ebony streets.  The timeline for the completion of those projects is unclear.  What is certain is that City Hall is bound by contract to RJB Construction until 2022, well beyond the life of the present municipal administration.  Earlier today, Mayor Bernard Wagner discussed the agreement which he says was drafted by his predecessor at the final hour.

 

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“The terms dictate that we are locked in with RJB [Construction] for the next four years.  That’s the terms that was signed.  At the eleventh hour again, so we have to, as a responsible council, take ownership of those contracts.  But certainly, going forward, my belief and my council’s belief is that we know we want to ensure that this type of activity does not occur in the future where councils are able to, are left to sign contracts without the local governments having some say on how you undertake those contracts leading up to an election.  We feel that the local government should be held accountable also. Being an oversight body, being able to get on the phone and say, “Listen, Mayor, undertaking these projects at this time is not prudent.  Nothing good can come out of this.  Why not wait until elections have passed and you have been given a new mandate or a new council is put in office and then we undertake these projects.”  But that was not done in this case and I feel, I just attended a seminar yesterday with the local government.  I feel that the local government needs to play a more active role in the municipal bodies in terms of ensuring that, or by policy, ensuring that leading up to an election there must be a window of cut off.  By law, it says that the office of a council is up to the twenty-eighth of February in the final year, in the third year.  So that in itself is some kind of mechanism you could put in place to say, listen, no huge capital projects.  The business of the council has to continue but those capital projects should wait until a new council is in office.”

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