Both our Belizean Leaders and the American counterparts appear in a quandary, over the recent revelations that a Guatemalan construction company is currently building a Coast Guard Forward Station on Hunting Caye. The revelations have struck the core of the Belizean public’s psyche and the public backlash as been fast and furious.
In a press release yesterday the US Embassy revealed that “…the Guatemalan company Bonatti Ingenieros y Arquitectos Sociedad was assessed as the most qualified based on the selection criteria.” That selection criteria, the release stated, “grants the contract to the company assessed to provide the best product at the most reasonable cost as is the custom with contract bidding.”
But who is Bonatti? We know it is a Guatemalan Construction Company building a National Security Structure in Belize. Its address is 18 Avenida Ocho in the Zone 14 of Guatemala City .
The Guatemalan company, which before 2011, had no previous contracts with the US Army, was able to sign a 14 million US Dollar contract to build several Administrative Buildings and Service Complexes in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. According to a website which grades US Government Contracts, the 14 Million Dollar Contract Award Puts Bonatti’s contract well above the average Obligation Amount and also places the contract’s value much higher than the median ultimate value of all US Government Contracts.
In September 2011 the company signed a 1.8 Million US Dollar project to construct the Pier and Fueling Depot on San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. It was at that time that they simultaneously signed a 1.43 Million US Dollar Contract to build the same type of Facility at Hunting Caye in Toledo. That contract appears very different from the controversial one now underway at Hunting Key. This current one is listed as a 1.78 Million US Dollar Project to build an Operations Barracks and Maintenance facility at Hunting Caye. If you are keeping track, that is a whopping 8.7 Million Belize Dollars worth of Coast Guard Contracts in Belize.
But is it that such Structures could not be built by Belizeans? Of course Belizeans can. And we have the proof. In 2007 the Previous Administration sought to build the same type of facility at Calabash Caye; a central location, and a dream of Retired B.D.F. General, Alan Usher. This maritime lookout point is a state of the art facility situated thirty nautical miles off the coast of the old capital.
The designer of the Calabash Forward base was one of Belize’s foremost engineers, Cadet Henderson, also a Captain in the BDF. Funding for the Coast Guard Forward Base at Calabash Caye was secured by Government in 2007 from the very same US Government. The bid was won by a Honduran Contractor but he agreed to subcontract the project to a Belizean Subcontractor, one from Dangriga. Groundbreaking occurred on the 5th December 2007 and in 2008, after general elections, even Former Minister of National Security Carlos Perdomo visited the site.
The Calabash Caye Coast Guard Forward Operating Facility was completed and inaugurated on March 18th 2010 at a cost of 3 Million Belize Dollars. It stands as testament to Belize’s ability to Design and construct the same type of structure that is being built by the Guatemalans on Hunting Caye.