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Aug 25, 1998

Mayor says “no” to infrastructure handover

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He may be in the middle of the biggest race in his political career, but until the results are announced on Thursday night, Jose Coye is still the Mayor of Belize City. And on the eve of the election, the council is headed for another showdown with Central Government. In a letter dated August seventeenth which the Council received on Monday, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Gerald Henry, informed Mayor Coye that government was handing over the completed municipal Infrastructure Project to the City. But the mailman was barely out the door at City Hall when the Mayor said not so fast. Citing, among other things, that the decision to hand over the project is a whole year behind schedule, he said that there are a number of problems still to be straightened out before the Council even considers taking over the project. Mayor Coye says there are just too many risks involved for the City to even consider accepting responsibility for the Infrastructure Project at this time.

Jose Coye, Mayor, Belize City

“For us to make the mistake of taking the civil works as they are, it will be extremely difficult for the council to correct those things. Those are needed to be corrected under the contract. The legal ramifications stems also from the question of liabilities, because of damages could be lost to people which are happening already. Many of the manholes are breaking up and of course, too, some of the legal ramifications come from the equipments that were to be made for the maintenance, are not in place.

For some time now we have been informing the government of our dissatisfaction with some of the civil works. We have many of the covered drains which are used as sidewalks breaking up. We have ponding continue to take place on streets which should have already had some low flow channels. We are not satisfied with the traffic designs and some of the placements and the pedestrian crossings, which comes out of engineering studies that were not being complied with. And there are other factors in there and all we are asking them to do is please let us go out and have an on-the-ground inspection of these things and that we point out to them what we see as the differences.”

P.J.

“Mr. Mayor, five years you’ve been in a power struggle with Central Government to oversee the city’s affairs, I would have thought that after five years, you people would have been able to set aside your differences and gotten on with the work of governing Belize City.”

Jose Coye

“Well I would have thought there would be no difference of this magnitude and I think the difference is spent, Patrick. I believe this is a time when the people must begin to become very conscious and aware of politicians who seem to have no tolerance for political pluralism. When we can continue to be having such kind of differences, irreconcilable differences simply because we supposed to be of different political parties, I mean that is a lack of maturity.”

For his part Permanent Secretary Gerald Henry told News Five that the mayor’s actions are premature and he would have preferred to have Coye respond to him, rather than the media. Henry says the ministry and city have met regularly and their problems can be solved through simple discussions. One point he did make, however, is that the provision of maintenance equipment for the city is not the responsibility of the Ministry of Works as it falls under the institutional strengthening section of the Infrastructure Project, which comes under the portfolio of the Ministry of Local Government.

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