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Nov 28, 2018

$14 Million More for Rehabilitation of George Price Highway

Dean Barrow

There were fireworks in Senate today on two matters that required ratification to pass. First, last week in the House, the Government passed a motion to borrow fourteen million dollars more from the International Development Bank for the George Price Rehabilitation project.  That loan is to top off another fifty-four million dollars borrowed back in 2015 for the same project which involves the paving of twenty miles of highway from the Roaring Creek Bridge to the Hawkesworth Bridge in Santa Elena. During the House meeting, the government side, namely Minister of Works Rene Montero and Prime Minister Dean Barrow, said that the monies were for the reclamation of land along the highway.  It passed in the House though questions were raised about the additional funding.  When it went to the upper chamber today, five days later, the purpose of the money was different even though it was said that it falls well within the category of social mitigation. For context, we share what PM Barrow told the House.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [File: November 23rd, 2018]

“The Minister of Works has answered. You know how it is Madam Speaker. You believe that in acquiring properties that you need in order to widen the roadway that you can negotiate reasonable prices from the land owners. Of course it never, ever turns out that way. People have you over a barrel. They know that you must acquire their lands and they insist on getting prices for that acquisition that any reasonable person would consider extortionate but so it is.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

Mark Lizarraga, Senator for Business Community

“There’s the matter that in the House, it was announced that this money was to reclaim land, to pay for land. But the documents that we receive in the senate do not agree with that. The documents state that they are for different things, different expenses: administration, relocating of poles, civil works, etcetera which we had already approved monies for those long ago. So had the piece of legislation come—the bill that’s before us, the motion before us—had that come and said for land reclamation, then we could have asked where’s the land, where are you buying it; get some sort of response. But there’s confusion it seems between what the prime minister has said, what the minister had said in the House and what we are seeing today before us. So that is concerning.  Eight hundred thousand for administration, moving of light poles. Well the road is not longer so why are we moving more light poles? You would have expected that that would be dealt with in the first loan of fifty-odd dollars. So it just wreaks of a disorganized approach; I just wreaks of to me, poor management, poor planning.”

 

Valerie Woods

Valerie Woods, P.U.P. Senator

“I am a little bit confused now. At first, at least in the reading of the papers I got, referred to civil works and maintenance, but I see my colleague Senator Salazar is saying almost definitively that the reason for the overruns is for land acquisition. My understanding, having checked with the financial secretary, that loan moneys really ought not to be used for land acquisitions and so I think that the difficulty that we are having and that Senator Lizarraga has expressed in his research is to identify specifically what really is the overruns that have occurred that has resulted in a fourteen-million-dollar additional expense on a project that had gone through some thorough research, thorough design to ensure that we would not have been in this position.”

 

Senator Valerie Woods also questioned who will oversee that the loan contract is transparent because a contractor general has still not been named. 


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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