$8M contract is the cheapest option

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

According to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, the sum of almost $8 Million for the Faber’s Road contract was actually the cheapest option, given the standard at which the road will be built.

Barrow held a press conference at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel on Wednesday to address outcry over the value of the Faber’s Road contract and the timing with which it is being executed. Barrow brought with him a chartered engineer, Evondale Moody, the consultant working on the Faber’s Road project, to give a thorough breakdown of the project and to justify the price.
Moody, who also worked on the upgrade works to the Philip Goldson Highway, noted that the drains alone, because of their design and materials will cost $4 million. Additionally, there will be another $616,000 to construct a canal, apart from the cost for constructing the actual road.

He noted that there will be a technician on site throughout the entire process of the construction to ensure that the project is carried out to the exact specifications in the project design.

Barrow said that the deplorable condition of Faber’s Road prompted the Government of Belize to start looking for funding to get the work done, when he was informed by Minister Anthony “Boots” Martinez, that the area was covered under Phase 3 of the Southside Poverty Alleviation project.
Since that project is still in Phase 2, and will remain there for another five to six months, GOB reached out to the funding agency to have the project fast tracked, under the basis that the road was in such bad condition that it needed immediate rehabilitation.

Barrow said that to make the case of urgency, GOB used the selective tender process, taking bids from only two contractors, one of them being Imer Hernandez, nephew of disgraced former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega.
“The open tender process would have taken between 90 and 130 days, which would have undercut the case we were trying to make that we needed the road urgently,” Barrow said.

Barrow also noted that if Hernandez does not follow the specifications in the design the, he will not be paid.
Civil society groups, political third parties and even community activist groups have all come out condemning the contract, saying that the figure is too high for only 1.1 miles of road. They additionally condemned the fact that the contract was given out to the relative of the former Minister of Natural Resources.

Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action (COLA) has written a letter to the Ministry of Works, requesting to see the contract under the Freedom of Information Act.

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