Mayor of Dangriga concerned about NCL plans

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The Norwegian Cruise Lines US$50 million investment in the development of Harvest Caye as a berthing site and welcome center for cruise shippers to Belize has attracted more than its fair share of dissent on numerous issues. We have heard from the tourism denizens of Placencia and to a certain extent the Toledo Maya, but even closer there is concern in Dangriga, where Mayor Gilbert Swaso says the exclusive 25-year contract for NCL at Harvest Caye ruins their plans for the recently reacquired Commerce Bight Port and Dangriga’s own Town Pier.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:

vlcsnap-2013-09-17-09h40m05s234How do I look at the Commerce Bight issue?  I must say that when we heard of the revocation of the lease for Commerce Bight, we stated that it was a very welcome idea.  However, there are concerns, because: one – no member of the Government, the UDP administration has consulted any elected representative, not the Town Council, not the Area Representative.  Again, that is demonstrating that they will forge on no matter what, and they will continue to disrespect and disregard the duly elected representatives here in this municipality.  So that is a concern for us.

According to Mayor Swaso, Dangriga is losing out on its opportunity to build tourism in the Culture Capital.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:

Furthermore, as far as we know, there is no official developmental plan for that port.  So the jetty/pier is again eliminated to be a cruise tourism [location], certainly based on the NCL contract.  At least  the jetty/pier has been closed for at least 15 years.  So [for] another 25 years we won’t even see a cruise ship.  [This] is a burden, adding more pain and suffering here in Dangriga.  That is 40 years that we’ll be out of an industry here in Dangriga, per say. So, I call on the Government, and I implore the Government, to do the right thing in ensuring that when they do anything with [the port], that the people of Dangriga are involved, the elected  representatives are involved.

Mayor Swaso revealed that there are reports of Government’s intention to sell the Port to American Sugar Refinery – owners of the Tower Hill sugar factory in Orange Walk. That, he says, is a slap in the face of Dangrigans.

Gilbert Swaso – Mayor of Dangriga:

As a matter of fact, the Town Council had taken the initiative to incorporate a company that is called “The Port of Dangriga,” which will include directors from the business and technical sectors within Dangriga, with a view that how we have ownership in the Commerce Bight. We need to be consulted, and we need to  have a stake in what happens with the jetty/pier.  So again without the consultation, without the participation of elected representatives, who knows what the Government will do?  It is our information that the Government is hell-bent on selling the Commerce Bight area that has been recently acquired.  And it is our information that they intend to sell it to the same company that took over the Sugar Industry.  So that is again eliminating the people of Dangriga.  So we will have to be the ones to go and beg for jobs.  We’ll have to go and beg to be part of whichever industry is introduced, as a result of that sale.

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