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Save beaches from pirate interests

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2016 | 1:00 AM
A view of Puerto Seco in Discovery Bay, Jamaica.

Save beaches from pirate interests

Many beaches in Jamaica are no longer accessible to Jamaicans. This may seem to be an exaggeration, but it is not when the facts are examined and the recent protest concerning the Puerto Seco Beach is properly understood.

For instance, if a Jamaican wishes to enjoy the pleasure of experiencing the natural beauty of Dunn's River Falls and wishes to swim in its salty seawater or its fresh river water, the price of entry is $600! This has been made to seem small because the price for a non-Jamaican is $2,400 (US$20)!

That this is a bare-faced rip-off of tourists is obvious. But the exploitation is directed at Jamaicans, too. It is not only the exceptionally beautiful Dunn's River that is charging this exorbitant price to Jamaicans and others. In the 1970s when I was a minister in Falmouth, I came across the Burwood Beach just outside of Falmouth. I was struck by the fact that one could walk out more than 100 yards from the shore and still be in relatively shallow water. In other words, it was a mini-Negril 'shelf' beach. I termed it my big bathtub. It was a virgin beach without any facilities such as changing rooms.

I therefore contacted the then Beach Control Authority, which had little knowledge of this beach, and suggested that it secure the beach by at least erecting changing rooms. To their lasting credit, they did. The beach became a well-used facility, especially for Sunday school and youth outings, because it was conducive to safe swimming.

I had not visited the beach for many years, but last week I decided to introduce it to some friends who were visiting from Canada. When I arrived at the entrance, there was a big sign which read, 'Entry fee $600 per person'. It was the same price as Dunn's River Falls!

It goes without saying that this beach is no longer accessible to Sunday school children and other poor persons. It is now outside the reach of the average Jamaican. Needless to say, this is not unique. The natural beauty of Jamaica is being sold out to such an extent that this beauty is no longer accessible to Jamaicans, the ones to whom it was given by God.

In the 1960s, the Manley administration prohibited the sale of beach lands for the express reason that this was to protect the interests of the Jamaican people. It is obvious that such a motive no longer inspires the actions of succeeding administrations. Those interests need not be protected now, especially if financial gain is involved. Hence the Puerto Seco protest.

No more church outings to Puerto Seco. What a difference in administrations!

EARL THAMES (Rev)

earlthames@yahoo.com

Spaldings PO, Clarendon