GOB revokes lease of Commerce Bight Port

The Government of Belize has revoked the lease granted to Port of Belize to operate and manage the Commerce Bight Port, south of Dangriga. GOB has made previous attempts to repeal PBL’s possession of the port – back in March of 2008, the  Government  served notice  to  PBL  to  revoke  the lease,  however, PBL applied to the Supreme Court and obtained an injunction restraining the Minister from cancelling  the  lease. This  injunction  was discharged  by  the  Supreme Court on  July 20,  2012, making  way  for  the  Minister  to  now  revoke  the  lease  and  take  possession  of  the  Commerce Bight Port. CEO in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Errol Gentle outlined the terms and conditions breached by PBL that ultimately led to the revocation.

Errol Gentle – CEO in the Ministry of Works and Transport:

vlcsnap-2013-08-19-07h43m31s17You might say, why are we revoking the lease? There were breaches of conditions, and there are three different areas under three different clauses of the contract that we referred to.  The first one, Clause 14:1, the ports of Belize Limited had failed to submit a development plan, or to carry out any development works in the port, as required by the lease.  This breach alone is sufficient under Clause 16 to revoke the lease.  Then there is also Clause 4:1 of the lease, where PBL failed to operate and manage the port, or carry out the necessary dredging of the approach channel and the dock basin, as required under the lease.  And then again there is also Clause 10, whereby PBL had failed   to pay lease rental to the Government of Belize, in accordance with this Clause.  So those were enough grounds, but I think the most important one was the development plan to carry out any development work at the post.  If you would have visited the post you would have seen that there is nothing going on there.

vlcsnap-2013-08-19-07h42m42s33Although the Port has been sitting dormant at Commerce Bight, it is a valuable source of economic and commercial gain.

Errol Gentle – CEO in the Ministry of Works and Transport:

You would appreciate the importance of the Commerce Bight Port.  The Commerce Bight Port is strategically located.  It needs to be operational in order to meet the commercial needs of the country. 

In the south we have bananas, we have the citrus, we have petroleum and we have the oil going out; So, Commerce Bight Port would be able to serve all these needs but the port needs to be operational.

If the Commerce Bight Port is operational it would [reduce] the travelling time, which would reduce the cost of the shipment, and [reduce] considerably the cost of movement of goods overland to the post. As you know there are plans, and I think it is already being effected, to grow sugar cane in this area.  So very soon we might be exporting sugar.  Commerce Bight port is in a strategic location for this. 

Errol Gentle explained what are Government’s plans moving forward.

Errol Gentle – CEO in the Ministry of Works and Transport:

vlcsnap-2013-08-19-08h02m31s152The next step is to take a team in there to do an assessment, to look at the post, to  see the condition of the port, to see what is required, and how much it will cost.  That will be the deciding factor.  But certainly the Government has all intentions to get that port up and running, and the future plans for the port are to get funding, and to get this port to international standards.

Later in our newscast, we’ll bring you a response from the Port of Belize. Late Friday evening, in a press release, Prime Minister Dean Barrow welcomed  the  decision  of  the  Minister  of Works  and Transport,  Hon. Rene  Montero, to  revoke  the  lease  of  Commerce Bight Port. PM Barrow says that “This Government is left to pick up the pieces and salvage what it can  from the  monumental  wreck left  behind  by  the  previous  administration.”

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