When will the Progresso Road be done? Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00

L-r - Lennox Bradley, Catherine Mendez, Erroll Gentle, Robert Allen, Deon PascacioPersonnel from the Ministry of Works including the Chief Executive Officer, Erroll Gentle;  Chief Engineer, Lennox Bradley; Project Execution Officer, Deon Pascacio; European Union liaison, Catherine Mendez; and Project Engineer Robert Allen braved a gathering of villagers in Progresso Village on Wednesday, August 14th. They had been invited to give the residents an update on the construction of the highway between Progresso and Orange Walk.

According to the Project Engineer, Robert Allen, the road construction has met significant delays which were not expected. Among these delays is the fact that the road was first designed in a certain manner but by the time the construction started it significantly had to be altered. But still as the questions began to be asked, it was clear there was great dissatisfaction on the part of villagers at the pace with which the project was being implemented. The contract was signed on July 13th, 2011 and was expected to have been complete by May of this year. The contractors were the Bella Vista Group Limited of Javier Berbey and Lopez Equipment limited. It was for 12.6 million dollars.

Over two years after the signing, the project is a mere 20% complete and CEO in the Ministry of Works stated that he was disappointed with the pace at which the work was being done.   However, he explained that it was not something that was unavoidable but one which the ministry is seeking to ensure completion within the next 12 to 14 months. And even as he answered questions about the reason for the long delay, the contractors ability to do the work was a repeated question.

Adding to the speculation that the contractors would be unable to deliver, is the fact that there were multiple complaints that workers who had been hired by the companies were not being paid. For at least one person, that meant not being paid for 90 days. And the complaints about the contractors went beyond that. Villagers complained that there were multiple occasions when heavy equipment belonging to the contractors were broken down on the work site. There were also complaints that at one point a Mexican sub-contractor had to be brought in to do work. Then there were complaints that other companies who did work had not been paid.

According to the CEO he was unaware of the multiple complaints but committed that they will help to address the problems. He stated that the ministry would now be pressing the contractor to expedite the works and they will also look into the multiple complaints. As he gave his commitment, he also assured villagers that  the project financing was still available.