During our interview with the ministers we also asked about the Eleanor Hall Building. The massive, multi-million dollars, multi-purpose building was built on Chetumal Boulevard under the UDP government. According to Minister of Infrastructure Julius Espat, several government departments have relocated to the building.
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: “The building is now occupied. They were waiting for furniture which came in already. So, Treasury is there. National Bank is there. I believe DFC is there. The Prime Minister’s Office or Ministry of Finance is. I don’t think they’ve occupied it in its entirety but they’re starting to show presence so yes.”
Hipolito Novelo, Love FM News: You mentioned you are a servant to the people but what goes through your mind when you see that huge building, millions of dollars and just across, a swamp filled with poor people?
Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing: Well, you’ve heard me mention my feelings about that many many years ago. It hasn’t changed but we have inherited something and as part of Government, I have to be responsible to make sure that what is there, at least, is preserved and that we maintain it and that it’s used efficiently. That’s our role. We weren’t the decision makers but at the end we inherited it and we have to be responsible to maintain it.”
We also asked Lake Independence Area Representative Cordel Hyde for his views on a building that was built in an impoverished area and one which cost millions of dollars.
Cordel Hyde: “That was a painful pill for us to swallow in the last administration because I believe it started at $12 million, 13, 15 million. It ended up at $26 or even more millions on that building. They couldn’t give us anything out of that. Anything, anything, anything out of that. We have to do things differently this time. You know, I think the people, the people ultimately punished the Government for that, for treating them so badly, so callously that time. Our job is to make sure whatever development comes in that area, and there’s lots of development slated to come up in that particular area. It’s a hot area. We’re going to make sure our people get theirs. In fact, right now, we’re focussed on dealing with the situation where lots of people have squatted on private land there. It’s a whole mess. We started to put in streets from a while ago and now we are trying to finalise the surveys, trying to finalise negotiations with the landowners so that Government can acquire it so that ultimately we can get it properly surveyed and people can get their land titles and we’re hoping to get that done. We’ve said September.”