Do we want to hear Negril beach options?
THE EDITOR, Sir:
As a result of the controversy surrounding the proposed breakwater project for Negril, the stakeholders of that town made contact with a company that could shed some light on the process of beach nourishment. This was the preferred initial method of beach restoration that was recommended to the Negril community from 2007, in the Smith Warner International report.
Through contact with the consul for The Netherlands, the stakeholders were put in touch with Van Oord, a world-leading dredging contractor that offers innovative solutions to marine challenges in more than 50 countries. In addition to creating the Palm Jumeirah sand islands in Dubai, Van Oord has also carried out projects in the Caribbean and Central America.
The regional representative from Van Oord, based in Curaçao, agreed to make a presentation to Negril stakeholders. Ministers of Government, representatives from NEPA, PIOJ, NGOs, local stakeholders and media were invited. Approximately 60 people attended the presentation in Negril on Monday. It was disappointing, however, that no government representative attended, nor was anyone sent from their office. In doing so, they relinquished the opportunity to learn about other options to combat beach erosion.
It is understandable that representatives from the agencies that have handled the breakwater project might be upset at the media attention and the somewhat negative comments that have come out.
However, it is regrettable that they have distanced themselves in this manner from any non-structural solutions. By ignoring the possibility of broadening their knowledge, these agency representatives not only do a disservice to the communities they are mandated to help, but to themselves.
Jamaica needs people in policymaking positions who are informed and open to new ideas if we hope to achieve real growth and development without destroying the natural resources on which we all depend.