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Southside Rejuvenation Workers to Work on Upcoming Projects Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:00

Hon. Mark KingOn Friday, August 24th, Hon. Mark King, Minister of State with Responsibility for the Gang Truce and Conscious Youth Development Programs, announced that the Ministry was scaling back on its work programs and as a result a number of employees were relieved of duties. Two hundred employees of the Southside Rejuvenation Project were released last week and more are expected to be released in the weeks ahead. It was an extremely difficult message for King to deliver; one that would be easier to understand if the audience understood the history of the program.

The Southside Rejuvenation Project was launched in 2009. Hundreds of men and women of the city’s Southside were hired to work on construction, sanitation and various other infrastructural projects. The project was a huge success as many who were living criminal lives took advantage of the opportunity and contributed meaningfully to the city’s upliftment. Unfortunately, the Southside Rejuvenation Project was only designed to last one year. Just as the project was about to close in early 2010, then Minister of Works, Hon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, travelled to Vienna, Austria where he was successful in reaching an agreement for US$11 million for the extension of the program. The Government of Belize added an additional $8 million in counterpart funding to make it $30 million for Phase 2 of the Southside Poverty Alleviation Program. Prime Minister Barrow has been the greatest supporter of the program. When funds from international agreements are exhausted, PM Barrow allocates funds to the program from the national purse.

Over 800 people were employed under the various city jobs programs. That number was way above what is actually needed for the projects being undertaken but government tried to hold on as long as possible. After the $30 million for Phase 2 of the program was exhausted, PM Barrow allocated an additional $2.29 million to keep the workers employed. According to Hon. Mark King, that money finished on August 10. Employees were held on an additional two weeks before 200 were released on August 24th with salary and severance. King hopes that their last cheque could help them out until October, which he believes is a good time table for a source of funding to be identified.

The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation will seek employment opportunities for all who are released in upcoming infrastructural projects. Such projects include the hot mix paving of Central American Boulevard; the paving of Jane Usher Boulevard, Faber’s Road and Pen Road and the rehabilitation on various secondary streets.