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Nov 16, 2018

What’s the State of the Sarstoon F.O.B. 2 Years Later?

An accident involving a Belize Defense Force soldier stationed at the forward operating base near the mouth of the Sarstoon River is raising serious questions about the conditions of the facility.  The F.O.B. was officially launched in April 2016 and is staffed on a twenty-four-hour basis by military and coast guard personnel.  The unfortunate incident earlier this week which resulted in Private Fidel Williams losing sight in his left eye has prompted many to ask whether the outpost is safe for use.  News Five spoke with Chief Executive Officer Felix Enriquez who says that while there are few rotten planks on the wooden pier, it is not in poor condition.  In providing an update on the injured soldier, the C.E.O. also said that Private Williams will be flown out of the country as soon as he is fit to travel.

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“As far as I know, Private Williams was posted at the forward operating base and what I heard is that he accidentally fell through one of the planks that was rotten on the wharf and that’s why he got injured.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Is it that the pier itself is in a state of disrepair?  Have you been aware of what the circumstances are in respect of the…”

 

Fidel Williams

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez

“The pier needs to be repaired.  It’s not in a state of disrepair, there are some damaged planks that need to be replaced.  Perhaps some of the structures that hold up the planks need to be replaced as well, but it’s nothing that the Light Engineers cannot do and it’s nothing that the B.D.F. is out of the resources to do.  So as far as I know, the commander has already taken care of it or has already made arrangements to take care of it.  It wasn’t given the priority that it should have been given so we have to accept that, but what happened to Private Williams was an accident.  It’s not to say that the men on patrol aren’t subject to that kind of thing or even worse, you know.  It was just unfortunate that that happened to him.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Now in respect of the facility itself, is it in need of some renovations?  Where do we stand, because if I’m not mistaken, that forward operating base was recently inaugurated in 2016?  What condition is it in presently?”

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez

“I was there a couple months ago, it could always use improvements and we are in fact making some arrangements to do improvements there.  There are several places that the B.D.F. are posted that need improvement, now that one is a priority and that one is frequented, so perhaps it gets more attention.  But to say that it’s in desperate need and it’s not providing the facilities that the guys need that would be incorrect.  They have what they need, it could be improved and yes we are making some arrangements to deal with some erosion which is more of a priority for me than anything else.  And so, we are working with the Ministry of Environment to do that.  But the facility is not in any kind of desperate condition and we will get it repaired, we are in the process of doing that even before this incident.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Can you speak to us on the condition of Private Williams?  Do you know how he stands at this point?”

 

On the Phone: Felix Enriquez

“The force medical officer has said to me that he is in a stable condition.  He has undergone one operation that dealt with aesthetically fixing his eye, you know.  The recovery of his eyesight is uncertain, but he is in a stable condition and he is recovering.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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