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Southside residents deserve an 8 million dollar Fabers Road project Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 October 2017 00:00

On Thursday of last week the Government of Belize through the Ministry of Works signed on to a contract for the complete overhaul of Fabers Road from Central American Boulevard to the George Price Highway. By some oversight, the scope of works was not expounded upon and the price tag of 7.9 million dollars took everyone by surprise as the stretch of road is only 2.5 kilometers in length. This led to mass hysteria and speculation as to the value of the contract and the television, print and social media went wild with accusations of the contract being bloated. COLA and their PUP attorney, Kareem Musa called a press conference and threatened to put the project into a grinding halt with an injunction. They claimed that the contract was in breach of the Finance and Audit Act. With all the speculation and accusations running rampant for almost a week it was not until Wednesday of this week when Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow called a press conference to clear the air.

As he began he categorized the reporting as a, “mix of confusion, misunderstanding misinformation, political opportunism and dare I say fake news.” He then went on to explain that the project was an absolute necessity for various reasons. Calling it a “fine and necessary above board project,” he added that it will employ 200 southside residents; inject economic opportunities into the area and enhance transportation to exporters using the Belize City port. Because of the state of Fabers Road there was an urgency to execute the project.

He then directly addressed COLA’s accusations of the breach of the Finance and Audit Act stating that under the open tender process which the contract was issued under it needed to be laid in the National Assembly but that should be done within one month of the execution. So there was no violation of the Act.

Speaking about the financing for the project the Prime Minister explained that while originally it was intended that it would be financed from local sources, he was informed that Fabers Road was actually a part of the Southside Poverty Alleviation phase 3. With that negotiations went into effect to bring up the execution of the project despite the fact that phase 2 is yet to be completed. That went well and the project financier OFID agreed that it could be done. And the reason for expediting the process said the PM was because Fabers Road is in such bad shape and is a critical artery to the Belize City port. Aside from that project, the PM added that the government will receive an additional 15 million dollars in reimbursements from OFID. The roundabouts at the end of Fabers Road and Chetumal Street as well as the new bridge that links the two along with filling from Fabers Road to the bridge were all to be financed under phase 3 of the Southside Poverty Alleviation Project. Since the government used Petro Caribe financing it is now entitled to a refund which it will receive. It is noteworthy that the construction of these projects were also done under the limited bidding process and did not attract any negative publicity.

After the PM’s explanation, he handed it over to Evondale Moody a chartered engineer of 21 years who has worked as a consultant with ministry of works for the past 19 years. In his presentation Moody explained that he’s been involved in the design of the Fabers Road upgrade for the past 6 years. He went on to break down the project down to its smallest component.

Firstly he noted that the entire stretch of road will feature boxed drains with reinforced concrete which will be the exact standard as the drains being installed on the Philip Goldson Highway currently under construction. This drain will be 3.8 kilometers or over 10 thousand feet in length coming at a cost of $1,091 per meter adding up to 4.1 million dollars for drains alone.

Then there is the carriage way which will be an 8 inch thick rigid pavement which is an upgrade from the original design which featured double surface dressing but had to be upgraded because of the volume of traffic as well as for it to be resilient to climate change.  All told the road will be 14,425 meters at $95.00 per square meter adding up to 1.3 million dollars. That along with the drains brings up the cost of the project to 5.4 million dollars.

Finally moody broke down the construction of an earthen trapezoidal shape canal of 1600 meters in length which will see the removal of 14 thousand cubic meters of material. At $44 per cubic meter that cost came in at $616,000. He then explained that the contractor needed to secure surveyor services as well as bonds and insurance and other expenses added together for $617,000. Finally factored in was a 10% for contingencies bringing the entire project to 7.9 million dollars.

In the end, Moody challenged anyone with a better offer to bring it forward because he was interested to see how they could have arrived at any figure smaller than the 7.9 Million.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 October 2017 15:33