( 0 Votes )
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 15 February 2018 00:00

One of the many attributes here in ‘Griga is the ability to interact and continue to interact with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.  Grigalizeans have also learned to overcome and somewhat master adversities.  Mayor Francis Humphreys is a proud product of ‘Griga who never left.  He never backs down and certainly by far no recent Dangriga Mayor has shown his hands on approach to running the council as he has.  On any given day, election season or not, this gentleman can be seen in his office at the Town Hall or at the other office – The Streets!  In comparison to the Dangriga PUP Mayoral aspirant Derrick Velasquez, he departed the precious shores of the Culture Capital some 30 years ago.  He has openly said and admitted that nothing has changed in the 30 years since he left ‘Griga.  In the ever so popular vernacular on Face Book, SMDH!  (Shaking My Darn Head).  Indeed without coercion, one would have to shake his/her damn head.

Rhetorical comments such as this from a virtual new comer to the Belizean world of politics and this municipality should be fact checked.  The last time an occasional visitor to the culture capital was elected as mayor without being fact checked, that caused an upheaval and several acts of embezzlement and corruption.

Bring back the love?  Unlike Mr. Velasquez, that love has never left ‘Griga; what has left ‘Griga is a ridiculous amount of money for a backhoe that was a piece of junk.  Under the last PUP Town Council, the then Mayor Gilbert Swaso signed a contract with Gregoria C. Williams described as a “private business owner.” By press time, there hasn’t been any evidence to support the contract was properly approved by a resolution by the then PUP Town Council. In addition, there were no verifying witness signatures to support that the ex Mayor and Ms. Williams entered into this contract.

For some strange reason the purchase price of the 1997 Ford XL backhoe that was supposed to be supplied by Ms. Williams, increased from the original cost of  $35,000.00 (Bz) to $44,000.00. According to the contract, the $9,000.00 increase was for a six cylinder, medium sized, four-wheel drive back hoe.  The Dangriga Town Council had an audit inspection covering the period 2007 – 2014 and the Auditor General’s memo on the audit states, “Audit was unable to get an explanation for this additional amount paid.”  Where is the love in that!

What the Town Council actually received for the unexplained additional $9,000.00 paid out of the hard earned Grigalizean tax dollars, was literally a piece of scrap.  The back hoe which was a worn out, obsolete and tired 1985 Ford 555A XL loader/backhoe “scrap” was purchased for (US) $6,102.94.  The hobbled piece of machinery was bought from Maresh and Sons Equipment Company of Caldwell, Texas.  This model stopped coming off the assembly lines at Ford Motor Company in 2010. The additional $2,486.93, (Bz) for GST, Import Duty and Environmental tax came up to a grand total of $14,692.81 (Bz).

For this reason the $44,000.00 paid by former Mayor Swaso and the PUP Town Council turned out to be close to three times the $14,692.81 purchase price.  The “scrap” was unsuitable for basic drainage and street maintenance, much less heavy loading and trenching operations.  It doesn’t end there.  After serving up the proverbial “bukut” and ripping off tax payers to the tune of thousands of dollars, the PUP Council still ended up holding the smelly end of the stick.  A subsequent lawsuit was filed against the Council to recover arrears owed to the suppliers of the junk. Someone broke the bank and left with fat pockets.

Thirty years ago, TV Ramos Avenue wasn’t concreted. Mr. Velasquez steps off his property and onto a cemented TV Ramos Avenue daily.  Thirty years ago Stanley Drive didn’t exist and many other infrastructural developments were nonexistent.  Claiming nothing has been done in 30 years is indicative of ignorance. Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.  Are the citizens of ‘Griga going to be naïve to be fooled by another new comer?  Mr. Velasquez hasn’t maintained a residence in Dangriga for more than 2 consecutive years.

Are Grigalizeans ready to bring back reckless PUP corruption and embezzlement such as the back hoe fiasco? Bring back the love?  What love? The love never left!  What needs to be brought back is the money! Needless to say, there is also a need to bring back Mayor Francis Humphreys. Bring him back and the entire UDP team to the Dangriga Town Hall March 7th 2018 for another term in office.