The San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town Council has reportedly been put in check after the Ministry of Infrastructure has taken control of the quarry at mile 70 on the George Price Highway. Mayor Earl Trapp was sent a letter this week from the Chief Engineer Lennox Bradely with a cease and desist order in accessing the quarry. Love News spoke with the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Infrastructure Victor Espat who explained that the decision was made to streamline the use of the ministry’s resources.
Victor Espat, CEO, Ministry of Infrastructure: “Is that unlike other queries that the ministry has the Santa Ignacio/ Santa Elena Town council actually took control of this quarry I believe from 2013, this is what I was told by our chief engineer and we have no records of any formal approval or permission given to them to actually take or use this quarry. I think it was more of an informal agreement with themselves and the former administration since the council is also a UDP council and it reached the point where the Ministry of Works was not allowed to access the quarry they actually have a chain across the road with a pad lock and I think the pictures of that is circulating already. I don’t know if you’ve seen it ?”
Reporter: No, no I haven’t.
Victor Espat, CEO, Ministry of Infrastructure: “Yeah so they’ve actually locked the quarry and so the San Ignacio/ Santa Elena Town Council had full access to that quarry. We have also known, the ministry, that a private contractor, a very famous private contractor, notorious private contractor, one of the favorite contractors also had access to the quarry and has a key for the lock and so they access the quarry at will and the Ministry of Works has no access to the quarry. We don’t have any intention of depriving the municipality whether UDP or PUP from accessing the quarry but has to be done under the auspices of the Ministry of Works.”
CEO Espat went further to explain that preliminary findings within the ministry have found that not only do private construction companies have free access to the quarry at mile 70, but that other quarries in the country have been privatized by the previous administration.
Victor Espat, CEO, Ministry of Infrastructure: “We’re doing a lot of investigation internally and a lot of things are popping up where a lot of quarries throughout the country have been privatized and so we have to end up buying material. We’re doing road works and we have to buy materials because we don’t have any access to quarries, they have been looted, raided, depleted and so we’ve started a process to look at quarries throughout the country that belong to the Ministry of Works or the Government of Belize because that’s what they’re there for. I don’t have right now specific number but within a week or two I will be able to have a specific number that I can tell you which quarries and how many quarries have been privatized. It seems that that was the trend where quarries were given away to I guess political cronies and the case of the quarry in San Ignacio it almost seems like that was the case because it was a private and municipal partnership because a private individual does have free access to that quarry.”
We will have much more on the ministry’s audit and investigations in our subsequent newscasts.