Food trumps environment in Hanover hotel construction
The decision by the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC) to grant permission for the dumping of the mangroves in the Industry Cove area of Green Island, to facilitate the construction of the 1,000-room Princess Hotel, is sparking mixed reactions from environmentalists, who are concern about damage to the environment, and persons who are seeing it only for the economic benefits.
Approval was granted by the HMC for the construction of the first phase of the Princess Hotel on the 186-acre property on April 8. It will feature two blocks with a total of 1,010 rooms, a casino, two industrial buildings, and two wastewater treatment plants. Phase two of the project, when approved, will involve the construction of another 1,010 rooms.
While environmentalists have been arguing against the project, the vast majority of the over 3,000 residents who reside in and around the Green Island area are seemingly delighted, based on the economic opportunities that will open up.
“Me caan so salt that me caan pick up a work, whether during construction or when de hotel done,” a 22-year-old man, who supports the construction, told The Gleaner. “At present, we are in serious need of employment in this area.”
When asked if he was not concerned about the likely environmental damage that will result from the construction of the hotel, he made it clear that feeding his family is his first priority.
“Me more concern ‘bout how me de go put food pon de table fi me woman and pickney,” the man said, without even acknowledging the environmental concerns.
Checks with several transport operators in the Green Island area also reveal that they too are all for the construction of the hotel, saying the positives outweigh the negative responses, especially as it relates to their personal economic prospects.
Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie, who recently visited the project, was asked by The Gleaner for his response to the environmental concerns being raised and he declared ignorance about the project.
“I do not know anything about the project, so I could not make a comment on it without having the requisite information. So I really could not speak on it because I am not really aware of it,” McKenzie said.
Meanwhile, Lucea’s Mayor Sheridan Samuels, who is also chairman of the HMC, said permits for the project came from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
“You speak of environment and those things ... those permits came from NEPA, and they are the experts; they are trained, they have the knowledge. I can’t speak technically about that, and in terms of damage to the environment, NEPA is the one that has the responsibility, and they have granted the permit, and they will do the monitoring of it (the project),” said Samuels.
“Every entity has a responsibility, so the responsibility, based on the nature of different things, falls within a particular entity, so they are responsible to do the approvals as long as it falls within their purview,” continued Samuel. “The municipal corporation waits on the approvals to come in before we actually approve the project itself, so in terms of the structure, this is what we (the HMC) approve, anything affecting the environment and those things we rely on other agencies to do the approval,” he pointed out.