The Community Action for Public Safety (CAPS) program spearheaded by the chief social sector Ministries of Government – Education and Human Development – will move into high gear over the next year with an infrastructure splurge costing over $3 million. Contracts were signed with contractors BAE and Usher Construction for the building of a Youth Center on the campus of Gwen Lizarraga High School; a new visitor’s and resource center and female dormitory at the Youth Cadet Corps compound on the George Price Highway, as well as rehabilitation of existing facilities. The Government, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will seek over the next four years to build on the reduction of youth involvement in major crime in Belize City and particularly on the Southside. Education Minister Patrick Faber today said there is still work to be done.
“I’m also pleased to be here because, of course, this Youth Center will be built in the Collet Constituency, not sure I had anything to do with that…but of course I am pleased that it is there, then, be readily accessible by the residents of my Constituency, which you will understand I naturally hold a bias towards, but also that it will serve the young people of this city and hopefully it can go beyond the boundaries of this city”.
In three phases, the project will counter factors associated with youth violence by improving learning and secondary education completion rates, and fostering positive behaviour patterns among students and unattached youth in vulnerable communities; improve prospects of at-risk youth and juvenile offenders social reintegration (an average of 270 per year), by reducing violent attitudes, and improving basic and vocational education levels among residents of youth rehabilitation institutions (the Youth Cadets, the Youth Hostel and the Wagner’s Youth Facility), and lastly, create a management information system to gather, share, and analyse information to promote coordination among institutions leading to more sustainable policy. The press corps were shown step by step in the bidding process leading to today’s ceremony. That’s for a reason, said Minister for Human Development Anthony “Boots” Martinez.
“We called the CEO about two weeks ago and said, let us, in the heat of the Social Investment Fund scenario, and said to her, let us have a public signing. One thing I always maintain, if I am not a criminal, I no fraid fuh police! This process gone through some rigorous procurement procedure, your colleague and with the IDB procurement procedure, full force forward and I said, this is a milestone for the Government and we no dih hide it”…
Construction on all projects is expected to take 12 months and the Ministry’s Project Execution Unit will be overseeing the project in light of scrutiny surrounding the Social Investment Fund scandal at the uncompleted Dangriga market.