The 1.3 million dollar project that is the renovation of the Dangriga Town Market has been making progress, but PlusNews understands that works will soon be halted. The project being spearheaded under the Social Investment Fund as part of the Belize Municipal Development Project. And we have been informed that after works have halted, the Contractor General will launch a thorough investigation into the project and SIF. In August of this year, we introduced you to Lyndon Bailey, a contractor who says he invested thousands of dollars into the refurbishment of the Dangriga Town Market –Assigned as Head contractor was Kennard Smart from K&G Construction – but that project was halted when Smart ran into financial dilemmas. And so that was when he contacted Mr Bailey and invited him to jump on board as a financier and co-contractor. He did and poured in a large sum of money into the completion of the market – and was assured that he would receive some $55,000. Well, Lyndon Bailey has since been trying tirelessly to recover those monies. But Mr Bailey saw a ray of hope that was quickly shattered last week Friday. He told us that he was called into a meeting at the SIF Headquarters where he was informed that he would have gotten money owed to him, but that wasn’t the case. We met up with them outside of SIF, where he stated his current position.
Lyndon Bailey – Contractor:
I knew that a lot of irregularities were going on. We put money into this project, and whenever it came time for us to receive our payment, our money was taken from out of the project and put back to fill some finance that had disappeared out of the project. First when Mr Smart approached me, I had asked him why he ended up in such a problem with this contract. He said to me that everybody in SIF, some of the engineers and the higher authorities, were on his payroll, and he had to be paying them to get his payroll going. Most of the time when he don’t want to pay them, they put a lot of pressure on him, and he end up can’t pay his workers, can’t pay all those who he owed. And we came right into the ants’ nest.
After Lyndon Bailey opted out of the partnership, Kennard Smart sought a new financier, Emy Gilharry Ramirez of Gush & Emy Limited. According to Emy Gillharry, a principal in the Company, they have invested some $500,000. But she too soon found herself in the same setback as did the previous financier.
Emy Gilharry Ramirez – Gush & Emy Limited:
He was in a situation of where he was looking for some help, because he had a contract with SIF of one point three seven million dollars, and that the project as it stands was a remainder of seven hundred and eighty thousand. He had a loan with Belize Bank, and he needed to release that at the request of SIF. That’s the way I understood it. The project was interesting, and that there was money to be made. He was offering me a hundred thousand dollars to help him in financing the whole project, and it would have been a revolving operation.
As we told you, Mr Bailey, along with Mr Ramirez were called into SIF’s offices last week. Also there, was Kennard Smart. Mr Smart is a well known UDP affiliate, who ran in Corozal Bay in the year 2011. We got a chance to chat with him on Friday to get his side of the story.
They sent me a text stating that “We’re trying to resolve the problem” and make the payment come through to Miss Emy. So I dashed, because I told them that I would just come early and sign the payment and go back. He said, “Sure, it won’t take long.” When I came, this is what they did to me: They call me in the office and wanted me to sign that I receive a letter that my contract is terminated. I don’t understand for what reason. I don’t know where to begin but the reality is I want to set a date with you guys, and bring all the evidence of the things that they have done to me and put it to the media, so that the media and the general public would see the things that I have been going through with these people. I was trying my best to complete the project. I sold my assets. I borrowed from friends. I mortgaged my place. I did all kind of things just to bring the project through, so that the project would go on [to completion], so that I could just walk away. I even tell these guys from SIF, I do not want to get any more contracts, and this will be the last contract I’m getting. I told everyone, even the Contractor General, that this would be my last project. The amount of headache and stress and stuff that I have go through, it’s only God keep me alive today.
Kennard Smart alleges that it is SIF who is responsible for paying the financiers, but when we spoke with Executive Director Daniel Cano last month, he claims that SIF’s hands are tied, as they did not hire Lydon Bailey or Emy Ramirez, but the contractor did. The financiers argue though that SIF has recognized them as partners on the project. On Wednesday, we will bring you a response from Cano on this current issue, as well as other dilemmas coming out of SIF.