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Aug 7, 2018

CITCO Gets Back Missing Equipment

In a strange and interesting turn of events, two of the three unaccounted vehicles which should have been under the possession of the Belize City Council were returned this afternoon. What’s more interesting is that the person who managed to find where these vehicles were located was Port Loyola Area Representative, Minister Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez.  As we reported on Monday, a special audit report conducted into the Works Department of the council revealed that a fifty-four thousand-dollar John Deer tractor, an eighty-six thousand dollars Caterpillar bulldozer and a thirty thousand dollars flatbed trailer were not delivered to the city council. The vehicles were part of the fleet of heavy-duty equipment that was granted to the council by the Government in 2015. The grant came after Minister Martinez had a meeting with the Prime Minister with respect to the acquisition of the equipment. But as we said, three of the equipment never made it to the council. In fact, the equipment was parked at a compound owned by Minister Martinez, who today denied taking possession of the equipment. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo has the story.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

Just before two o’clock this afternoon, a Caterpillar Bulldozer and an eighteen feet flat bed trailer were returned to the Belize City Council. Stilling missing is the John Deer tractor.

 

For almost four years, the Belize City Council under the tenure of Darrell Bradley was not able to locate these heavy duty pieces of equipment. A recent special audit conducted into the Works Department of the council pointed to Port Loyola Area representative, Anthony ‘Boots’ Martinez. It is Minister Martinez who found out where the vehicles were.

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Sir, so you managed to locate the three pieces of equipment?”

 

Anthony Martinez, Minister of Human Development

Anthony Martinez

“I did not manage to locate anything, Sir. I found out where…”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Where were they?

 

Anthony Martinez

“…where they were. So I did not managed to locate anything because I did not go and see where they were. I heard. So I did not manage nothing.”

 

It was something, actually because Minister Martinez managed to do what the Former Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley was unable to do.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Former Belize City Mayor

“And to my knowledge, up until the time when I had left city council in March of this year, those pieces of equipment were never turned over.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“And you had no idea where they were?

 

Darrell Bradley

“Well we had indications in relations to, because all of this came through the Minister at that time. I do not know if he was Minister of Works because we do not know what funds procured the vehicles. If it came out from the consolidated funds, or a special project. At that time Minister Martinez was responsible for the Southside Poverty alleviation Project. We did not know which particular fund of the government that came out. I can only speak to the fact that he was a primary contact person as we made request in relation to those vehicles. We needed those vehicles because of the service that we would then provide and we never got them.”

 

The Special Audit report states that the vehicles were parked at Martinez’s compound located on the George Price Highway. Martinez explained how the equipment arrived in his compound.

Anthony Martinez

“Sometime in 2014, I was approached by city council in regards to finding, want to rent a spot. They were about to take over from BML and they wanted to rent a spot and at the same time they were closing down the commercial center. The office of the Sanitation Department was at the commercial center. And taking on the workload of so many workers from BML they ask for me to ask to rent the place. Same thing, like what they say, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intention’. Again, for this same kind of thing I opted to have discussion with the people concern and say that we are an NGO group, community oriented and the people wanted it. So we said we would gift the place to them. When the story broke, I started to inquire and the equipment is about a mile and a half road there. Taken there to be repaired as I understand. Maybe you can talk to the person as to where the equipment is and how he got it. You can talk to him. Also too the city council has difficulty. They lost their equipment. I am telling you where you can find it so you can take the police and go there and find out what exactly is the situation. I have never been an employee. I am just showing you that the road the hell is paved with good intention. I gave them this property because of the same reason because you do not want people to say that the group is in hustling with the city council for renting this. They got it for free.”

 

But for the current council, there are more questions than answers tonight.

 

Oscar Arnold

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor of Belize City

“It’s just a stranger set of circumstances. It is just shrouded in a lot of mystery. The equipment were not reported stolen. I am not an attorney so I do not know if t here is a criminal matter there. However we will further investigate and if there was criminal wrongdoing we will turn it over to police and see where we go from there. It is a strange set of events. Like I said, after we came to power after March seventh, after viewing the reports and realizing that something was wrong that is when we started to ask the hard questions and have the hard the discussion. This is what yielded the events of today. It does baffles me because the previous council, we inherited some bill because they were actually renting equipment. So if you are renting equipment but you have equipment that you should have at your disposal that you are not using but someone else is making use of then it begs the question as to what was going on. What kind of oversight was taking place, if any oversight at all.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.

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