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Blast victims compensated says Minister of Works

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Minister of Works Rene Montero confirmed to the media that the families affected by the blast in Santa Elena Town this past December have been compensated. He says they have done so satisfactorily. The blast killed Canadian Ronald Sutherland and the Environmental Compliance Plan, ECP suggests that the Ministry of Works and the Department of Environment are culpable. No permit was obtained for mining activities because none was need said, Minister Montero. Today he maintained that position.

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

“Every individual that was affected was adequately compensated.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

“How many residents? I believe you spoke to one person who said that she was being over $20000 for her house being destroyed but she said that wasn’t enough.”

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

“Yesterday for all I know that has been settled because yesterday I visit the area and the lady that you are talking about has renovated her house. It wasn’t painted before and now it is well painted and the lady is happy, I spoke to almost all the residents and all of them were happy because they were adequately compensated.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

“How many residents?”

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

“As far as I can recall it was about between twelve and fourteen residents.”

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

“So do you still maintain that no license was needed? Because one of the criteria of the ECP, I think it was a residential area? Do you consider that area as a residential area?”

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

“It is a residential area but according to the Mining Act, there was no need for a license. It is the Ministry of Works; I can’t recall the exact the Act but I think it is one two twenty-six ninety-seven that states whenever you are extracting any material for any public road you do not need a mining license. We took all the necessary precautions to ensure that there is minimal damage. The people in the area were adequately on a timely basis they were informed to evacuate and the police were there to assist us to ensure that this happens to minimize any damage be household or human damage. All precautionary measures were taken.”

Supporting Minister Montero was the Chief Engineer Lennox Bradley. Bradley pointed out special provisions in the law that demonstrate that the Government did not have to apply or pay for a permit.

LENNOX BRADLEY, CHIEF ENGINEER, M.O.W.

The contractor has the right to explore all avenues to get material that will satisfy the specifications in the contract. That was what the contractor was doing BRC Belize Roadway Construction. They identified that part. Ministry of Works have access to that site from the late 1890’s and we gave the go-ahead for them to do exploratory works there. We will not hinder their progress. If they identify a site that has been granted to the Ministry of Works for use; it’s a public road. That is our mandate we will facilitate.

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

Exploratory activities. Including blasting?

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

Blasting to get samples to test to ensure that it is compliant with the specification

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

And you are saying no license was needed for blasting?

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

You have two laws in Belize the Public Roads Act that they give the Ministry of Works and the Chief Engineer the authority to source material from any land that is the Public Roads Act and then you have Chapter 226 the Mining Act that also makes provision which the honorable Minister made reference to that once a public road and it’s a government department we do not need to get that Mining Act to do exploratory investigation.

HIPOLITO NOVELO, LOVE NEWS REPORTER

Should you have taken into consideration that residents were around this public road.

RENE MONTERO, MINISTER OF WORKS

Well, this is why the contractor subcontracted to a team Tiger aggregates that have the necessary expertise. This firm has been doing blasting for the past thirty years.

The matter is being investigated by the Department of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Works, the Mining Unit and the Belize Police Department.

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