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Jan 22, 2014

Difference of opinions on sugar roads in delay sugar cane crop season

Jose Mai

The 2013/2014 sugar cane crop season is slated to begin at ten a.m. on Friday morning, after a delay of more than two months. At least, it is the hope of all stakeholders, from foreign to factory to field, that the season will start. The biggest problem facing the farmers now is the state of the sugar roads. Works on those roads were long delayed, and because the infrastructure in all eighteen sugar-cane producing branches was so deteriorated, roads are nowhere near adequate at this time. There has also been some criticism that contracts to fix those roads have been politically gifted, which farmers say is not timely, smart, effective or efficient. Today representatives from both sides had their distinctly different take on the matter.

 

Jose Mai, Orange Walk South Area Representative

“I heard a statement that fifty percent of the sugar roads would be completed by Friday. Well that is far from being realistic Mister Speaker. I was in the area yesterday, in my constituency—which is the second largest sugar cane producing branch—and it is far from the truth. There is no doubt in my mind that the Ministry of Works is trying to do its best, but I think that there are things that still can be done. Mister Speaker, the rate of repair must be accelerated. The sugar industry cannot afford further delay and I will tell you why. Mister Speaker, we have a hundred and twenty day crop to deliver one point two million tonnes of sugar cane this year. This is the largest crop since the project of BELCOGEN came in; in 2009-2010, we had similar one point three million tonnes.  Today the farmers have one point two million tonnes. The milling capacity of seven thousand five hundred a day, definitely there will be cane left out this year.”

 

Gaspar Vega

Gaspar Vega, Deputy Prime Minister

“I sincerely believe that the representative from Orange Walk South feels beaten to the punch because we are having a sugar crop. Sincerely I can still remember the words that the representative from Corozal South West mentioned when he said if I have to encourage my people to go out there and strike and ensure that there is no crop; that is why they feel so bad today. But Mister Speaker, I would like to tell you that the way this thing was program was with the directors of all the different sugar branch. I don’t think that the representative from Orange Walk South expected that from this administration, but we are showing him that we are transparent and that all we want is the betterment of the industry. We take no sides for no one; we want a better industry. We contracted the roads with the advice of all the directors of the sugar branches. They were the ones who decided which sugar roads to be repaired and we had asked them that there is a limited amount of contractors and to ensure to work on the roads that can be worked on because as we speak, Mister Speaker, there are still sugar roads that are under water as we speak. How are we going to fix those roads?”

While the Special House Sitting ended at a respectable time today in the early afternoon, a wide range of issues was covered. We’ll have more highlights in Thursday’s newscast. 

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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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