Wed | Sep 20, 2017

The Negril projects, chock full of controversy

Published:Tuesday | May 24, 2016 | 5:00 AMAdrian Frater
The eroding beaches in Negril is one of the reasons stakeholders are worried about building breaches by developers.

The recent collapse of a building at the Royalton Hotel site in Negril is just one of the many controversial issues that have dogged projects being constructed by foreigners in the resort town.

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) and the Negril Chamber of Commerce (NCC) have been quite vocal about some of the projects, which they say, without being properly regulated, could harm the town's eco-balance and negatively impact its tourism potential.

Earlier this year, the NCC expressed outrage when allegations surfaced that international investor Karisma, which is involved in a major project in the resort town, was involved in the illicit sand-mining, a claim the company vehemently denied.

"It was brought to our attention by multiple persons that sand is being mined in the Negril area, and [has been] moved by several trucks in the dead of night to a major hotel development," the NCC statement claimed. "We are further told that the sand is stockpiled at the development in question for movement to another property on the north coast."

In March, the Karisma project was again in the news when allegations surfaced that Chinese workers were being brought in to do menial tasks, which could be done by Jamaicans.

Building blocks

"I would hate to believe that our Government is giving the Chinese work permits to come here to lay building blocks," said a local contractor in an interview with The Gleaner. "That is something that our Jamaican workers can do and should be doing."

Interestingly, a Montego Bay contractor, who claims to have knowledge of cheap labour being brought into Jamaica by some foreign contractors, says it is simply a matter of economics.

"A Chinese worker probably costs no more than US$1 and a bowl of rice per day, which is much cheaper than a Jamaican worker, who, with the various built-in costs, is about US$4 a day," the contractor said.

It should be noted that over recent years, stakeholders in Negril have had many quarrels with the authorities, especially in regard to the National Environment and Planning Agency, which, they say, is not acting in their best interest.

With the collapse at the Royalton site, many stakeholders are now hoping that the authorities will take it as a cue to start paying attention to their concerns.