Date set for controversial dredging of Falmouth harbour
The Port Authority of Jamaica's (PAJ) proposed dredging to extend the Falmouth cruise ship pier, which has attracted much criticism among stakeholders in the Trelawny capital, is poised to go ahead and could see activity starting within the next two weeks.
"We have finished the dredging we were doing in Kingston, and we are now ready to move to Falmouth," said Mervis Edghill, the senior vice-president of Engineering and Port Development at the PAJ.
According to Edghill, who did not speak to the concerns about further dredging of the Falmouth harbour, the project is expected to last for two weeks.
"When completed, the pier will be capable of having two of the Genesis Class Vessels docking simultaneously in Falmouth," said Edghill. "This will increase the number of cruise passengers arriving in Falmouth in a significant way."
NO NEGATIVE EFFECT
According to reports, the PAJ is comfortable that it is treading on safe ground as Elizabeth Monon, of Smith Warner International (SWI), the firm which was engaged to analyse the impact of the dredging, recently assured residents during a public meeting that the environment would not be negatively affected by the project, which was one of the major concerns.
Based on the dredging plans outlined by the PAJ, 140,000 cubic metres of material will be removed from the sea floor. This will be taken to a disposal site approved by the National Environment and Protection Agency (NEPA) 2.5 nautical miles offshore.
When the plans for the dredging were first announced, concerns were raised by persons such as Fritz Christie of the Trelawny Fishermen's Co-operative; Richard Shirley, a noted businessman in Falmouth; and Earl Bernard, the operator of the Luminous Lagoon at Fisherman's Inn.
However, the greatest dissent came from outspoken pastor of the Reverend Devere Nugent, who used one of his sermons to call for a demonstration against destruction of the environment by people whose interest, he claimed, was all about making money.
"I am calling on the churches and people to establish baskets of resistance. We must resist the further dredging of the sea. Let us no longer sit back and be exploited," said Nugent. "The people who are planning to do further dredging are doing so for their own profit, none of which stays in Falmouth. They don't live here, they don't shop here, and they don't join any church or civic organisation here. It is broad-based exploitation."