BELIZE CITY, Thurs. July 23, 2020– On Friday afternoon, July 17, a part of the ceiling of the second floor of City Hall collapsed into the finance manager’s office. The Belize City Council has confirmed that the incident did take place and that it was “eroded concrete fragments” that fell from the ceiling. No one was injured in the incident.
According to the council’s incident report, this may not be an isolated incident. The previous administration began renovations to the Commercial Center in late 2017 and early 2018. The current council continued the renovations after being elected to office in 2019.
The council moved into the building in 2019.
Since then, the report states, “The council has been subjected to numerous problems which is uncharacteristic for a newly renovated building of this magnitude. The problems have been, but not limited to, leaks (roof/ceiling, plumbing, air conditioning), mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.”
The report went on to say that, “The recent structural problem/occurrence may only be a sign of a deeper underlying problem and must be reviewed thoroughly to follow proper professional ethics.”
The Belize City Council’s report from the engineering department continued by providing pictures to prove (a) a wrong design during rehabilitation, (b) poor workmanship during rehabilitation, and (c) inadequate supervision during rehabilitation.
According to the Belize City Council, a requirement in the contract is that an engineering company must be hired to supervise the work of the renovations. Young’s Engineering was awarded that contract.
The company that began the Commercial Center renovations in 2018 was International Environments Ltd. (IE). According to them, Friday’s incident was not a result of their renovation works.
In a letter addressed to the Belize City Council, Carlo Arguelles of International Environments Ltd. stated, “It was from the original contractor works that did not provide proper cover for the fabric in the concrete coupled with the leaking bathroom that once existed there. The leaking water eventually caused rust on the decking below and that rust extended to the fabric inside the concrete due to it having direct contact, which is not correct.” Arguelles added, “Nevertheless, IE will assist in this repair.”
In relation to other issues mentioned in the incident report such as leaks and plumbing, Arguelles said that they have been coordinating with the plumber to prepare a list of materials needed to “repair both the leaking pipes in the bathroom area and change the PVC pipes near the tank to galvanized pipes.” These repairs are scheduled for the week following the list’s completion.
The negotiated contract was done under the previous City Council headed by Darrell Bradley, now President of the Senate.