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Government relocating Dangriga offices, staff raises serious health and safety concerns about the move

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Posted: Tuesday, April 6, 2021. 7:40 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: In an effort to save money on office space rental, the Government of Belize is relocating the staff from several departments in Dangriga from the current location on Ecumenical Drive, to a previously used building on St. Vincent Street; however, the staff has pointed out that they left the previously used building on St. Vincent Street due to health concerns.

Breaking Belize News (BBN) has obtained a letter signed by representatives of the Belize Tax Service, Sub Treasury, Lands Department, Labour Department and Immigration Department in Dangriga, noting that the building on St. Vincent Street leaked from the roof and had electrical problems for the majority of the time the offices were housed there, and as such it is inconceivable to be going back to there.

“Southern Regional Hospital did an assessment of the building and found it not conducive to a working environment, several officers got ill until one of them went off medically unfit, others became ill and have underlying conditions due to that building,” the letter said.

There were a number of other issues including inadequate office space, no storage space, no parking, inadequate bathroom facilities and that the bathroom was too close to the kitchen.

BBN learned that the issue became so much of a concern that the Public Service Union (PSU) got involved. Our newsroom spoke to PSU President Gerald Henry who said that he raised the issue with the Ministry of the Public Service and was told that the move will see significant savings in rental costs. Henry said that the union will be looking closely at the issue, given the risks posed to public officers, as well as the public in light of the cramped spaces and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic safety regulations.

“The health of our public officers should not be balanced against the cost of a rental. There is no money value to our public officers’ health,” Henry said.

Sources in the Public Service tell BBN that the previous administration had invested heavily into the current office building on Ecumenical Drive to ensure the safety and comfort of the staff.

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