Thinking Out Loud

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By: Kevin Bernard

The Orange Walk Town Council is in the process of paving the first portion of Cristock Street from its junction with Pasadita Street to its junction with Burns Street. Last week, we finished paving the first portion of Yo Creek Street, and applied a first coat of paving to Cactus Street. In keeping with our Master Plan, implemented in 2012, we are in the process of preparing (for paving) Santa Familia Street, Fonseca Street, Baker’s Street from Casa Económicato the Riverside, Main Street from Avilez Lane to the highway, San Pedro Street, San Victor Street, Punta Gorda Street, Palmar Boundary Road, Sarstoon Street and Audinette Alley.

Your Council has cemented eight intersections, and has completed the paving of 65 streets. This is not idle boasting, but accountability and transparency. This is how we in the Council do things, because we depend on the support of the residents of Orange Walk. We are proud of what has been achieved, and by now the people know that when a job is completed we don’t sit down and relax. We find more work to do.

This is a working Council, and I can say without any hesitation that we have accomplished more work for our residents than any other Council in the country–even those which enjoy the full support of Central Government.We in Orange Walk do not enjoy the support of Central Government. What we have been able to achieve, we have done through prudent management, responsible allocation of the people’s money and hard work.

Believe me, there are many times we struggle to meet payroll, but there is no shame in that. The people can see where the money is being spend. There are some Councils that have done no work in the community and can’t meet payroll.Even now, there is a scandal about to break over the amount of contracts awarded to Imer Hernandez. We are hearing that under the UDP in just the past years Hernandez has been awarded 207 contracts. If that is true, then there needs to be an immediate investigation.

Apart from his obvious political connections, there is nothing that qualifies Hernandez to receive any contract, much less 207.Listen, I don’t play politics. If you do good work as a contractor, and provide value for money, I don’t care which party you support. That is not and should not be my concern. When we do work in this community, whether it is work we supervise, or work we do ourselves, it is good work. Because we know we have a duty to the people, we pride ourselves on making sure that we get value for money.If you are not aware of the terrible quality of the works done by Imer Hernandez, then it means you have your head stuck in a hole somewhere –more than likely a hole in one of the streets he has paved. This man got a contract for works at the Northern border.

Go take a look at the condition of it now. He got the contract to do the road which passes through Orange Walk Town. He hadn’t even finished the first phase before it started sinking. This man did like a half-mile stretch of road on the George Price Highway, and he had to redo it twice because three weeks after it was finished it had holes. He did Faber’s Road, and that road which cost Belizeans $8M is a joke.

It hadn’t even finished completely before the cement cracked.Hernandez got the job to do the Municipal Airstrip, and it has already had to be fixed. He got the contract to do the Caye Caulker runway, and there are reports that is sinking. This man is a joke as a contractor, and yet he keeps getting the people’s money. That is one of the reasons we are where we are as a country right now.I commit to the people of Orange Walk now, as I always have, that under my watch that has never happened and will never happen at the Council. And with the people’s support, when I become the representative in OW East that is the same commitment and integrity I will bring to that job. As politicians, we can never forget that we are not dealing with our personal money –we are using the people’s money. They entrust us to use it wisely and well. That is a lesson a lot of our leaders now in government need to learn.

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