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Imer Hernandez’s luck of the draw

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2019. 7:08 am CST.

Aaron Humes: If it is true that some guys have all the luck, then Orange Walk contractor Imer Hernandez must be among the luckiest man in Belize.

He is a nephew of Orange Walk North area representative Gaspar Vega, but even as Vega’s star fell as a result of various scandals surrounding the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Hernandez’s keeps rising.

There have been bumps in Hernandez’s roads, starting in 2012 when he first came to notice as contractor for the San Antonio Road running east-west through the center of his native Orange Walk town. For some reason, monies totaling $250,000 – 200 thousand from Central Government and 50 thousand from the O.W. Town Council – were diverted to works in the Otro Benque area of the Sugar City – which happens to be Vega’s constituency and residence.

Hernandez survived this first brush with authority – dodging a lawsuit from Mayor Kevin Bernard – and even got a second chance to do the road in 2014, this time for two million dollars.

In the meantime, he was a very busy man, dealing with upgrades to the Tower Hill Airstrip; a portion of the Belize-Corozal Road running north-south through Orange Walk Town and the Belmopan Market. Speaking in July 2014, Prime Minister Dean Barrow offered this commendation: “…it is very clear that he does very good work and that the public gets value for money in respect of the contracts we have given…in terms of the Municipal Airstrip in Belize City, in terms of the works at the Northern Border… There are no complaints about performance where Imer Hernandez is concerned…”

Despite having previously refused comment on the issue of the San Antonio Road, then- DPM Vega chimed in by stating, “I think that him being my relative most naturally helps, but not just because he’s my relative he’s getting the job. I am certain that he gets the job because he has the capacity. He has proven to be able to deliver good work. It’s as simple as that.” He went on to claim that Hernandez was sub-contracted to work for Javier “Berbey” Garcia on projects in the villages of Progresso, Yo Creek and San Estevan in the Corozal-Orange Walk area.

Hernandez was also tapped by then-Corozal Town Mayor Hilberto Campos to work on seven streets in the northernmost town for $800,000.

The contracts kept rolling in – the Belize City Municipal Airstrip for $4 million; Fabers’ Road for nearly $8 million; the Caye Caulker Municipal Airstrip for nearly $4 million; and his largest to date, 10 miles of the George Price Highway for $19 million.

But the stink of shoddy work has trailed Hernandez at every turn. The Belize-Corozal Road paving encountered poor work blamed on a fired engineer. Both the Belize City and Caye Caulker Airstrips needed remedial work after completion and there was a delay with the Belmopan Market. Fabers’ Road has shown cracks after its completion. And at least one accident can be directly attributed to conditions caused by Hernandez’s road works in Orange Walk.

But at Monday’s signing for the George Price Highway, Minister of Works Rene Montero maintained that Hernandez has the support of the multilateral agencies which he says controls a few of the larger contracts he has received, and de facto the support of the Government.


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