Headline — 04 January 2013 — by Miriam Longsworth
CITCO grabs “dead people” business!

All construction of graves, tombs etc. taken away — funeral home owners out in cold!

The Belize City Council has informed all undertakers in a press release sent out in December 2012, that effective Tuesday, January 1, 2013, the City Council cemetery workers would take over several duties from the undertakers.

Those duties include the construction of common graves and enclosed graves, the re-opening of graves at the Lord Ridge and Eternal Gardens Cemeteries, and the construction of “vault/mausoleum, tombstones, tomb tablets, statues, and niche in columbarium.”

The press release went on to state that the listed structures were to be done only by authorized workers from the Cemetery Department, and that the construction of those structures would cost $1,000.

David Coye of Coye Funeral Homes said the arrangement does not seem plausible because it has not been made law.

“Laws like that have to pass through the Cabinet, not happen overnight,” he said. He went on to say, “I’m looking into getting a lawyer. The cemetery is not for the City Council; it’s for the people of Belize, the people of Belize City. If they want to compete, no problem. But they can’t just stop us, though.”

Coye said that the City Council is planning on stopping the people from doing simple things such as painting burial structures and building graves for their loved ones on spaces that already belong to the families. He said that he sees the issue becoming an even bigger problem.

“People have the right to choose who they want to build for them,” he said. “It might boil down to people having to get permission to enter the cemetery. It’s not only affecting us, but everybody. The City Council is to regulate and legislate, not to form a business to compete against the public.”

The matter of City Council taking over the cemetery business will mean only one thing for undertakers, and that is that they will lose their source of revenue.

“Well, it seems our services we provide, we can’t provide anymore,” Coye said. “To be honest, I don’t see it working. It hasn’t reached Cabinet. As far as I know, it has to pass through them first.”

Amandala tried to contact the mayor today, Thursday, for comment, but was told that he was in a meeting and would be unavailable for the rest of the day.

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