Sat | Jul 23, 2016

JIS smokescreen on Negril breakwaters

Published:Saturday | November 15, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

There was a second public consultation about the proposed breakwater project on Monday, November 10, 2014 held at the Negril Community Centre. The invitation said the purpose was for the National Works Agency (NWA) to share two material changes to the project.

The Jamaica Information Service (JIS) has reported on the meeting, and after reading their version of what took place, I have to wonder if we were in the same location.

There was no mention of numerous empty 'reserved' seats or the annoyance expressed by members of the community at the lengthy agenda. Nothing about the National Environment and Planning Agency's (NEPA) statement that told us we had only four days to make our comments, although its guidelines say 30 days should be allowed for this.

WASTE OF MONEY

The handouts shared contained images so small; they were a complete waste of time and money. What was interesting on their handout was the following benefit:

"The breakwaters are expected to result in 109,400 cubic metres of accretion over 80 per cent (4.95km) of the shoreline, with an average shoreline growth of 13.5 metres per annum."

So is this a guarantee from NEPA and the NWA and if in their folly, the project is given a green light, can we hold them to these figures? Will we be able to sue when they do not perform and deliver? Will stakeholders be compensated if they, in fact, lose beach instead of these amazing gains predicted by the NWA?

The two changes shared were to not de-silt the South Negril River and to remove the storage and construction area. While delighted at the South Negril River not being dredged, the addition to the project of pulling down something the community does not want in the first place is absurd. We could only expect to hear that the money is finished and it cannot be done.

What is also truly amazing is the fact that the JIS has again chosen to quote who it refers to as chairman of the Negril Coral Reef Preservation Society (NRCPS). Several errors here: 1. He is not the chairman of the NRCPS. 2. The NRCPS no longer has an active office or staff in Negril. 3. The NRCPS website no longer exists. 4. The NRCPS has no audited accounts nor held any AGMs for several years. Its credibility was questioned after the first public consultation. Has the JIS forgotten that fact?

There were many vociferous stakeholders at the meeting with lots to say about this project. In the name of good journalism and reporting, why didn't the JIS quote some of them? Are we really expected to believe anything the JIS reports on? The verbatim record of the meeting that will be posted on the NEPA website will hopefully confirm what truly took place.

The clear consensus from the meeting I attended was that the Negril community does not want the breakwaters. When will the powers that be get that simple message?

MARY VEIRA

negrilgirl@gmail.com