Dangriga Market Project – what of the 2 investors who stepped in when project was faltering?
The Social Investment Fund has turned a new page in respect of the Dangriga market. On Tuesday, it penned a new agreement with a new contractor to resume work on the market and on Wednesday, Cesar Bedran of CB Construction received the two-million-dollar project. But even as it moves forward, there are still a lot of unanswered questions for two investors who stepped in when the project was faltering, but who have been left holding the bag. Today, Duane Moody caught up with one of the investors and has that story.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The construction for the Dangriga Marketplace is back on the table. The project, initially tagged at one point four million dollars, will now be completed at a cost of two million dollars and under a new contractor. On Wednesday, representatives from the Social Investment Fund officially handed over the project to CB Construction out of San Ignacio.
[File: April 2nd, 2014] Via phone: Selwyn King, P.R. Officer, Social Investment Fund
“The handing over ceremony that took place was basically a normal handing over, a technical meeting that takes place between SIF and the contractor. That took place in the presence of the mayor, His Worship Gilbert Swazo, the executive director Mr. William Lamb Jr., project manager Mr. Ernest Raymond and other officials from SIF and members of the town council. So basically our engineers, along with the new contractor went over the whole plan, the documentation, in terms of moving forward. So the handing over represents basically now, the turning of a new page in a new chapter of moving forward to complete the project and, as explained by the contractor, it’s expected to be completed within six months time.”
Lyndon Bailey, Investor
“We tried our best to see how we can work this out with SIF, but apparently we are living in a real world where dog eat dog out here. It’s tough, but when SIF put the contract back out to tender, we submit and apparently four of us submitted, four companies and apparently they chose to give CB Constructions from out of Cayo.”
The contract for the project was initially awarded to Corozal resident, Kenard Smart, back in 2012, at a total value of one point four million dollars. Eight hundred thousand dollars of that money was disbursed to Smart before the abrupt halt of the project in September of 2013 and following allegations of corruption within SIF. That would mean that six hundred thousand dollars was still available for the completion of the marketplace. With the new contract signed, an additional six hundred thousand dollars has been added on…so one point two million dollars will be spent to complete the Dangriga Marketplace.
“I was telling them all the while that the money that had left would not be enough to finish the project. And the project started and one point three. And you see what happened? Now it gone back up to one point two [million dollars]. So you see what happened from the very beginning that things was going back.”
But what about the investment by Emy, Gush and Emy and Lyndon Bailey with the previous contractor, Smart? Public Relations Officer for SIF, Selwyn King, says a contract was not signed with Ramirez and Bailey.
Via Phone: Selwyn King
“Well from my understanding, basically, the Social Investment Fund had a contract with one contractor, I believe that is Mr. Smart and, as you are aware, for us to have signed this new contract, if you notice from the press release, we said that there was no objections from the World Bank and concurrence from the Contractor General. So we are moving forward, we have a new contractor onboard and at that time we engaged and entered an agreement with one contractor and that was Mr. Smart.”
Approximately six hundred thousand dollars for Ramirez and Bailey went down the drain. Bailey says it is unacceptable and he will look at his legal options.
“My loss is about a hundred thousand and Miss Gush losses is about five hundred thousand dollars. So we just have to wait and see. We try leave everything to the good lord.”
“It seems sir like you are going to just have to take that loss.”
“Many times, I think about it, but we will have to go deeper in the hole to try and see what we can receive, but in the end, suppose there is nothing there for us to receive? Then we will go deeper into the hole. Well I thought at least the government would have stepped in and said, hence because our people and the director of SIF and all of them was in this collusion with Mister Smart, would have said…hey these people went in genuinely to try and get the contract completed and because of the corruption in SIF, we lost our money. The government could have said, hey, let us see how we could get these people to receive at least some of their money back.”
CB Construction projects that the marketplace will be completed by the end of October. Duane Moody for News Five.
The monies for the project will be provided from the second tranche of Dangriga Community development Project.