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Belize Defence Force to replace dormitories, kitchen and mess hall at Price Barracks, Ladyville

Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2023. 2:36 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Price Barracks in Ladyville is the country’s oldest military installation and soldiers have had to endure less than optimal living conditions for many years.

That will soon be addressed through a program first designed in 2010 but which is only starting to be realized a full decade and more later. The Belize Integral Security Program (BISP), funded by the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) was allowed to lapse and Dr Osmond Martinez, CEO in the Ministry of Economic Development, recalled that it was an almighty fight to secure the funding to continue the project: “It was approved by CABEI in 2014 under the Central American Integral Security Program, however, nothing was done. The program was there, the money was there, but no construction – not one procurement was delivered under the Integral Security Program. Now this is the third procurement that will be done for the Belize Defence Force. The first was the ten troop lifting trucks that were delivered back in December by our prime minister. Just before that, we managed to give you some computers, printers which I trust they are working well and now, we are moving on to the construction of the two quarters and the kitchen.”

The new barracks will host up to 100 soldiers each and cost $2.7 million each and the kitchen/mess hall another $1.1 million for a total of $6.5 million.

Minister of National Defence and Border Security, Florencio Marin, Jr., a former soldier himself, admitted that grandiose plans he harboured on taking over the Ministry gave way to more sensible welfare-oriented initiatives: “I’d like to think that you all are seeing changes, albeit small at times, but changes that are constantly occurring within the BDF. We never had much resources, but we decide to start from the ground up. We begin to fix the bathrooms; at least make that clean. Every camp has at least gotten some kind of repair, some kind of refurbishment. We had issues with transportation. The mobility of the BDF was limited; now we have fifteen HINO trucks that are helping us, and we also have some small pickups, and SUVs that we are working with. So little by little we are getting the work done to be able to do the job that we are supposed to do.” Knowing the “licking” they take on the front lines, the Minister asked that they continue to do their part, and he would do his for them.

Minister of State for Finance, Senator Christopher Coye, reiterated that citizen security remains a key priority of the Government and that our soldiers deserve nothing less for their work than a clean and comfortable place to refresh and lay their heads at the end of the day: “This Briceño administration understands that even though this Government relentlessly works to reduce poverty; to stimulate economic growth; to generate employment; to roll out free education and housing and national health care while building climate resiliency, it would all be futile if we failed to ensure the security of our people… By improving their quality of living and creating a space that is enjoyable and comfortable, we place their well-being as a priority, which allows them to put the life of every Belizean as their priority.” He added that Hurricane Lisa laid bare the need to keep our troops safe and also their value as humanitarian assistance during times of disasters.

Additional work will be carried out at secondary installations Fairweather Camp in Punta Gorda and Camp Belizario in the Cayo District.

 

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