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Jan 11, 2011

Builders protest after losing construction bid

It was a small protest, but the men on the front line made known their disapproval that they were being excluded from construction jobs in their own backyards. This morning a group of six staged their protest in front of the Gulisi Monument in Dangriga where the Social Investment Fund has awarded a school contract to Kenard Smart. If you recognize the name, that’s because as recent as Monday night Smart was in the news as the defeated candidate in the UDP Corozal Bay Convention. News Five Marion Ali was in the south today and has this report.

Marion Ali, Reporting

A small group of contractors from Dangriga and its environs held a brief protest in front of the Gulisi Monument over what they say is “unjust treatment” from the Social Investment Fund, SIF.  The men claim they have never benefited from SIF contracts.  And to add salt to the wounds, the latest contract for the Gulisi school project has been awarded to someone who is not from their community.

Glenn Lewis

Glenn Lewis, Member, Concerned Builders of Dangriga

“SIF has awarded a contract for the Gulisi preschool here at monument sight here in Dangriga to a contractor from Corozal, which is outright disrespect.”

Marion Ali

“What makes it disrespectful?”

Glenn Lewis

“Well because the grassroots and the poor class of people have been denied economic opportunity.”

But while the contractors say they have been denied jobs, Public Relations Officer for SIF, Mike Hernandez, told News Five that the organization has guidelines which it must follow and that it awarded the contract to the person who offered the most reasonable price.

Mike Hernandez, Public Relations Officer, SIF

“The monies that we get from various financial institutions does not really belong to SIF. This financial organization and I can name some of them—C.D.B., European Union, I.D.B., etc—they have a set of procurement procedures which we need to follow. Having said that then, it is important for the people to understand that while we want to work with the communities and while we have been working with the communities we have to keep our high standards.”

Mike hernandez

Marion Ali

“But in this case, they are claiming that they are being boxed out. Was there anywhere along meeting the criteria that they fell short?”

Mike Hernandez

“Contrary to that as I said, this bid for Gulisi was actually part fot he national competitive bidding. For the record, I can tell you that the reason they were disqualified it was simply for one; their bid was above the amount of monies that we had available and second; their bids was incomplete.”

Ras Caliz, Member, Concerned Builders of Dangriga

Ras Caliz

“Hey contractors deh yah. We could work something out mien. You noh have to just bring in people pan we like that.”

Marion Ali

“You do agree that you all have to meet the criteria?”

Ras Caliz

“Yes man but hey mien, work with win oh man? Weh we wah do then? You wah keep wi out ah nothing because we noh meet wah certain criteria mien? Life mien, how life? How the kids?”

Marion Ali

“At the end of the day, money matters though.”

Ras Caliz

“Yes we noh wah seh money noh matters mien, but look pan the future. Weh wah to fi we kids dehn?”

Marion Ali

“They’re saying that by their standards your submission was incomplete, one and two; it was higher than the allotment for the project itself. The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder.”

Glenn Lewis

“SIF gave us a range of something like four hundred thousand dollars. We went to something like four hundred and twenty thousand dollars.”

Marion Ali

“That is higher than their…”

Glenn Lewis

“Ok, but we were led to believe that the other two contractors from Dangriga had build higher than us. So if the two contractors from Dangriga bid higher than me, than Concerned Builders, then.”

Marion Ali

“But you are not competing among only yourself from here, you are competing among all contractors and he was the lowest one.”

Glenn Lewis

“Ma’am you have children out here who are suffering.”

Marion Ali

“But sir, it’s like going to the shop. You have a Belizean shop and Chinese shop. You go to the Chinese shop, they are offering you cheaper rates than your very own Belizean; which one are you going to buy?”

Glenn Lewis

“Well ma’am, me personally, I hundred percent Belizean.”

Kenard Smart

So is the man who was awarded the contract a Belizean? He is.  In fact, he was the third candidate on the United Democratic Party’s ticket for this past Sunday’s Electoral Convention for Standard Bearer in the Corozal Bay area, Kenard Smart, a contractor by profession.

Kenard Smart, Received contract from SIF

“I went through all the procedures and it was an open bid from SIF and I won the project so I came up. What happened really, I have some friends from here and I promised to give him a job so this is his opportunity. So I subcontracted the project to him and we’ll run it through our company. I am still the contractor but I’ll work jointly with Mister Sabal.”

Marion Ali

“You know that there was a protest outside not long ago because a person from outside this municipality got the contract?”

Kenard Smart

“We, I saw it when I came.”

But while the aggrieved contractors who turned out to protest say they represent a larger number of a hundred, we asked why only six of them protested.

Glenn Lewis

“Due to this procession permit, it was dated the tenth day of January 2011. When I visited the inspector police station in Dangriga, he explained to me that this couldn’t happen again because I needed thirty-six hours to change it.”

Marion Ali

“Why did you get it for yesterday’s date if you planned it for today?

Glenn Lewis

“We didn’t know when the officials for SIF would arrive at Dangriga at Gulisi so we wanted to meet with them and sit down with them so that we could dialogue and see how we could go forth in gun fate. So that explains why there is six of us when there should be a hundred.”

And while the hundred men were disappointed that none got the contract, Smart says it’s not all bad because they will benefit from the project.

Kenard Smart

“I planned already to subcontract it to Mister Sabal and that’s what I did. When I came in they did not know that we were working together so they did what they did out there, but that’s their little thing.”

Marion Ali

“Does that create any jobs for those men out there?”

Kenard Smart

“Definitely, I don’t have any problem with them. Mister Sabal is the one who is going to hire and he is one of their own. So he will decide what he will do and who he will give jobs to.”

Marion Ali

“Mister Smart, you did not win the political bid in your constituency in Corozal Bay, but you won a business contract all the way down in Dangriga. Does that balance off? Is it luck? What is it? How do you explain that?”

Kenard Smart

“I do my job professionally, I continue to do my job professionally and I will always do it professionally. And that’s the main thing about a contractor; you need to know your stuff and have your thing together.”

Marion Ali

“And politically?”

Kenard Smart

“Politically, that’s another story. That’s politics. That was yesterday.”

Marion Ali

“What happens now?”

Kenard Smart

“Well, it’s my party still.”

Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.

While none of the protesters have been awarded contracts, Hernandez says SIF others from the Stann Creek District have benefitted because they met the requirements.

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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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27 Responses for “Builders protest after losing construction bid”

  1. BZNinCALI says:

    Brothers. let’s not nit pick, be grateful that the contract went to a Belizean & not a contractor from across the border or they did not figure out a way to have the Mennonites build it in their warehouse & assemble it in your backyard.

    In the future, take your time & fill out the bid properly, if you need help calculating the job cost, talk to people who are more knowledge but don’t do things half—ed, then complain that you were treated unfairly. Now go ask the Government officials why they replaced some of the houses destroyed by Hurricane Richard with Mennonite homes without taking into consideration that they needed to be on solid foundations & should be able to withstand a real hurricane & hopefully something above a category 3.

  2. REGGIE says:

    HOLD YOUR GROUND BRO.IT SHOW YOU THAT THE G.O.B. IS ABOUT THEIR OWN.GLAD TO SEE YOU GUYS STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHT.IF YOU NEVER PROTEST YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN PEOPLE FROM AL OVER COMING TO DO THE JOB.TRUST ME HE HAVE TO GIVE BACK AT LEAST 25% TO THE PARTY FOR NEXT ELECTION .WHAT HAPPEN TO YOUR AREA REP.IN DANGRIGA IS HE ALIVE OR DEATH?NEVER HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT HIM.POWER TO YOU ALL BRO.

  3. concern says:

    People, lets pick sense out of non sense (S.I.F) monies are recieved from the various INTERNATIONal Funding agencies eg; European Union, Caribbean Development Bank, International Development Bank-ok to summerize this there are “STRICK” guidlines when it comes to getting contracts from SIF, if your allotment for a contract is lets say hmmm $400,000.00 and let say in this case your bid went in for hmmm $420,000.00 you have just disqualified yourself from that process; secondly once your bid is rejected you cannot go back after the fact and tell SIF oh take off the excess amounts and we can work that out-that is not the way the process goes my friends.
    This statement that people always use “what about the kids” i think it’s high time some of us stop using kids as excuses for our short fall, we need to get our act together and realize this, our governments need to start teaching us through some medium how to do proposal and contract writing, it is a very tedious process and it involves some real time, energy and most of all the ability to get it done, lets start to step up our game and educate ourselves on how to be better proposal writers and realize that the old way of doing thing will not work anymore, it is either that or we will always be placed at the back of the line.

  4. rootsman says:

    Would be nice if we could get more information on the bid process such as was this a sealed bidding process, when were the bids opened and in front of whom and what was the bid amount from each bidders, this would have really placed some transparency on the process.

  5. Jane says:

    Please don’t say Mennonite houses a lot of those wooden houses replaced are not built by Mennonites they are built by a belizean home builder and they are at a very good standard in building structure.

  6. Grant says:

    Why did Mr. Sabal not bid directly ? Now you have two contractors both making a profit, and still being the cheapest. Sounds like the protesters were too greedy in this case.

  7. Garifuna Artist says:

    I agree with you brother Rootsman, there need to be some transparency in the whole affairs so we could see clearly what is taking place. All this could have been avoided if the amount of all bidding contractors was on display. In other words, If the Concerned Builders of Dangriga, Kenard Smart’s Contracting, Sabal’s Contracting and any other bidders price were displayed, all this would have been avoided. By all rights, if the work will be in Dangriga, give Dangrigan contractors the job.

  8. bix says:

    thought mennonite were belizean….if not only the maya are belizean…..stop this ignorant racist bs ..

  9. chinese says:

    “You have a Belizean shop and Chinese shop. You go to the Chinese shop,”

    Chinese are Belizeans. I am Chinese Belizeans and I am tired of my race being singled out. When you say Belizean shop, what race are you referring to?

  10. chinese says:

    and what is the point. if you come from another district you cant get a job in that district? what bout caribbean single economy?

  11. chinese says:

    we belizean cant progress because everybody think small and only think bout ME

  12. The People Had Enough says:

    Hey Chinese, you not Belizean my friend, when your people knock down over 6 generation in this Country then you can call yourself Belizean, buying passports does not make you Belizean.

  13. rootsman says:

    You tell them Chinese and welcome aboard a different opinion is always welcome and yes you are Belizean, you are whatever you choose to be, maybe you can teach these so called Belizeans how to get along and how not to self destruct.

  14. CEO says:

    A sealed bit is a sealed bid. When it is opened the lowest qualified bidder should get the job. This is the sort of work I do outside of Belize and this si the way it goes.

    The bidding process is not a social program this is why it is called competetive bidding. They will get the work anyway so what is the problem?

    Don’t be closed minded my Belizean ‘bredrin’ as long as you have papers to be a Belizean you are a Belizean: chinese, cooley, kerub, wika, backra, pania, african or creole. One fabric my brother!

  15. BZNinCALI says:

    Bix, when I tried to purchase food in bulk to help my people(not relatives but children whom I knew needed help) after the hurricane, I was stalled & treated as a sucker. I question their identity as Belizeans. Instead of spending hours on the phone begging someone to let me spend my money with them, I purchased the food here in America & shipped it. If we are all Belizeans, behave accordingly. I didn’t see hungry black folks, I saw hunger & if you have ever been hungry, it is colorless & it is painful.

    Jane, our houses have to be built to withstand hurricanes, all of the houses were not built by Mennonites & I am not saying they should not build houses. I am saying that putting a house on a substandard foundation in a flood plane is a waste of money. Do it right & know that it will last a few generations.

  16. roska says:

    Big fish eat small fish…. how you call it?? competition….. globalization… you name it..

    That’s how the system works…. Do you think Ras Caliz can write a project proposal at the standards that SIF/IDB/EU want?? of course not…… only the big fish can do that…. and apparently his big fish went too greedy!!!! If SIF says $400,000.00 that’s the ceiling…. not a cent more….. didnt Caliz contractor know that???

    Same story as the cruise ship ordeal…. open your doors to the Big Fish of the ocean and they will eat up the small fish in your pond!!!

  17. Claire says:

    I can’t believe how disrespectful some Belizeans are of others. Chinese, you are Belizean. Belizean are people who chose to live in this country, to raise their children here, and love this country. If we go six generations back, then that means most Hispanics, a lot of Garinagu, almost all Arab/Lebanese, many white, and Mennonite-descent people are not Belizean either.

    At the end of the day, the Mayas were here first! We are ALL Belizeans!

  18. Matt says:

    Hi Everyone,

    I guess people need to know more about the bidding process required to do a bid. It is a very complicated work and only a professional could do such works.
    If you need advice, cost and material estimates, architectural and engineering plans, specification etc. please feel free to contact Matt at 664-1946. we prepare bidding documents for contractors and much more!!

  19. wagu says:

    These guys needed to contact a non-profit agency in Belize that would’ve helped them put a proposal together. Come on folks, where is the community outreach?

  20. 100lizean says:

    Cali, you the try tell me that because i’am a Mennonite, i’am not belizean. Even tho i’am born and raised in Belize. By the way I helped set up a few houses in PG a few years ago. Most of those houses were donated, so that the families could aleast have a roof over their heads. We were happy to do it because we are belizeans helping belizeans. Just be grateful. We didn’t want the people sleeping in tents.

  21. Bulba Martinez says:

    My Belizean brothers and sisters, my heart bleed’s for my Grigalizean fellowmen, but I call it how I see it. Honestly, it is obvious that our Grigalizean Contractors are lacking within the education and bidding process of their profession. Considering the bureaucracy throughout our nation, one can only blame his/herself for not educating themselves in whatever profession or career that they venture in. Instead of name callings and other negativity against each other, we need to work with each other not only for a better Griga, but a better Belize. After all, we are in the very same Boat that we all need to keep afloat. If my Grigalizean brothers had no idea about Contract Bidding, then they should have seek professional consultation. There’s more to construction than building a house or school. Our brothers need to seek education in Contract Agreement, Bidding Procedures, and last but not least, Contract Law for their guidance and protection to be considered as Professional Entrepreneurs. I personally grew up and went to school with friends from Chinese descent that are born Belizeans and decent human beings. We need not calling names at each other or point our fingers at anyone for our own shortcomings. Get over it like everything else in life, use this as a learning experience, and find a way to do better the next time around. Our Ancestors has paved the way for us by enduring the enslavement of their minds and physical body. We need to take the Bull by the horn and take responsibility for our own actions and learn to maneuver around never ending obstacles. God see’s and know everything. Lift your heads up HIGH Grigalizean Garifuna, Creole, Spanish, Coolie, Indian, Chineese, every brothers and sisters that reside in Griga. One LOVE in the name or our Almighty Father……..”Aba Icieni lida liri Wabureme” Itarala.

  22. Shirley Williams says:

    Life is not the same anymore, keep on fighting for your rights brothers. I feel your pain, i share the same sentiments. It is nothing short of a Marth Stewart insider move. They let you all did the ground work, so as to come up at with a sum (ball park figure) then informed the favorite so as to bid below. It happens all the time to my husband when we were home.

  23. The People Had Enough says:

    Thanks for posting the info. Matt. @Claire, take your bleeding heart for the Chinese somewhere else. Chinese have systematically taken over a big portion of our food supply (yes, it is our fault to an extent), they are notorious in many communities for selling poor people expired junk; go to any Chinese store and most don’t have any courtesy towards Belizeans (get your crap, pay and get out), because of their access to extremely cheap money from China they use that resource to manipulate our political system; they sell us nasty junk food that contributes to obesity in the poor demographic of Belizean and the list goes on and on…however, they are very skilled in keeping out of the spotlight, they have very, very deep pockets and they HAVE organized crime right here in Belize…also, a true Belizean holds only a Belizean passport in my book, I don’t even have a damn visa for the US or anywhere else, much less another passport, also I can say I am a 100% genuine Belizean then, cause my mother is Mayan Indian. I don’t dislike the Chinese because of skin or anything else, i dislike them because they feel that they are better than real Belizeans in our own country.

  24. Garifuna woman says:

    Oh lord, stop throw chinese man under the bus, they’re belizean too. I understand trying to keep the money in the community but you have to make sure you are better prepared and not get sloppy with the bidding process. Times are changing and you have to keep up or get left behind. I’m sorry for your loss of potential income, I pray for more opportunity for you all in the future because I know man want to work to feed his kids.

  25. B grovy says:

    People why don’t we stay on the issue. This has nothing to do with wether ur a belizean or not. Its about a bidding process that somebody lost because they failed to follow the process.

  26. Leonardo NAYO Folgarite says:

    Looks like the Smartest Man in the Corozal Convention was Kenard SMART with a $400000. contract in his pocket.
    I will be next for the PUP Convention.

  27. BZNinCALI says:

    @100lizean, the beauty of Belize is the wonderful mix of people who call our country home. From the beautiful Mayan buffed young man I met a few years ago to that toned specimen that Marion interviewed at the gym last week. We are all Belizeans.

    What I addressed very specifically in my statement was the importance of us behaving as if we are a part of the same community. We have to be willing to work together especially in times of emergency. It frustrates me as a Belizean when I see a roof that appears to be leaking because of something as simple as not having enough of an overhang. We know the areas that are prone to flooding, build the houses away from the river & since we are choosing to build in the swamps, build with that in mind. When I am willing to pay for food, pay someone to pick it up or have you deliver it to a place you know is a public, nonprofit entity, DON’T GIVE ME A HARD TIME, I am trying to put money into “YOUR” economy.

    As someone who supports Habitat for Humanity, I obviously believe that everyone should have a decent place to live & I believe in sweat equity. Thank you for helping the poor folks in Toledo but I believe in the old saying that if you give a man a fish, he can eat today, teach him to fish, he eats for a lifetime. I would love to see your farming community use agricultural waste in new home construction. Toledo has a lot of bamboo growing wild, I would love to see us use that as well as rice straw & clay to build affordable homes as part of a community effort. We will talk some more in the future & look at what we can do together to help our countrymen.

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