OPINION: A Yuletide cry for Mother Earth

Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis participated in a tree planting ceremony at Gambier Primary School – western New Providence on Thursday, September 13, 2018. Pictured tilling the soil are, Deloris Forbes, principal at Gambier Primary School; Prime Minister Minnis, Surinder “Lucky” Kahlon, General Manager, Sandals Royal Bahamian, and other representatives from the resort. (Bahamas Information Services)

A recent trip to Bimini, Cat Cay and Ocean Cay, by a team from Save The Bays, has us asking more questions of this Government than we can find answers to.

Day and night, the all too familiar sound of pilings being continuously driven into the ocean bed can be heard echoing across Bimini as an extension to the cruise ship pier takes place.

Back in 2014 Save The Bays fought the destroying “developing” resort over its proposed pier, knowing that the island was too small to bring a 1600-person ship to such a small island as environmentalists knew too well.

The case got all the way to the Privy Council; but this was thwarted at the eleventh hour when the resort mysteriously managed to produce the relevant missing approvals overnight along with government signatures.

Our fears were confirmed, the cruise ship stopped coming after a year, yet 12 dive reefs were suffocated in the process, coastal erosion soared, beaches on the west side of Bimini disappeared overnight,  fish stocks dwindled, the infrastructure on the island proved it could not cope with overflowing trash, a lack of water and electricity on an already overextended island and resort.

So why is the pier being extended yet again? Were the public or environment agencies made aware of this and whatever happened to the Mitigation Measures dating back to phase 1 of developments, never to be heard of again?

Bimini has no new clinic, no new school, no sea defenses, no improved infrastructure. It just got a fire truck, but that was courtesy of some American home owners who raised funds after the mail boat caught fire and not from the resort as promised.

So what exactly did Bimini get in exchange for the loss of 650+Acres of mangrove forests and how has that end of the island managed to “grow” to three times the size of what was actually purchased by Gerado Capo as Bimini Bay Resort back in 1998 under the Quiet Titles Act through Ingraham’s Government.

Which brings up the question, “How” was Bimini’s biggest piece of real estate 650 acres plus, sold legally under that act to a foreign investor? The Sound as it’s known to the local Biminites, was once not so long ago, the home to the rare small sawtooth shark, millions of shrimp, turtles as well as the marine hatchery for multitudes of other species. Now you are lucky if you see anything except silted up muddy water from all the development, dredging and run offs, with not a single boom in sight to protect our waters.

My heart bleeds for what successive Governments have sold off, favoring the mighty dollar over Mother Earth’s diverse marine eco habitats. Which brings me to another question: just how much land has the resort created? And if the ocean bed cannot be sold, only leased from the Government, then surely the land created on and from the seabed should only be up for lease and not for sale for millions of dollars that are going into foreign ownership hands resulting from real estate companies selling million dollar homes?

How is Bimini and Our Bahamaland benefitting?

The beach road that once was the gateway to East Wells, where generations after generations have gone for crab, or to see a rare Bimini Boa, or to fish in peace and quiet, has been systematically deliberately destroyed by OPAC, Capo’s construction company, in order to create “private beach fronts” to its multi-million dollar beach homes starting at $3 million, with a private road and security checkpoint behind the homes, making it inaccessible to all but homeowners.

Let’s not forget that in last year’s Hurricane Irma when dozens of the resorts floating docks from
The Bahamas’ biggest mega marina bust open spewing tons of polystyrene particles into the ocean making it look like Bimini had had major snowfall. The resort made a show of clearing it up on the morning PM Minnis was arriving to assess the damage as Bimini’s protest group videos of the spill went viral through various international environment agencies.

A year on, the same type of  floating  docks are back  in place  as if waiting for it to happen all over again, while to this day, polystyrene is still washing up on our shores, some chunks several feet long, being ingested by fish and birds.

Oh Bimini, how we miss the days when this special little Island in the stream could be described so aptly by Dr Martin Luther King as the “Promised Land”. If he were to see his Promised Land now, he would shed tears of blood!

Along the islands created upon the extensive seabed the little mangrove propagules by the hundreds, if not thousands, are popping their two leaf heads above the shallow water, as if to say, please, please spare us so we can do the task entrusted to us by the creator.

Who in God’s name and on behalf of the people of The Bahamas are monitoring what is continuing to happen in North Bimini Bay; who is monitoring what is happening on South Cat Cay and Ocean Cay, where the identical savage and wanton destruction of the sea beds are taking place.( I will write on this in the next release).

Who? Pray tell me.  Our Prime Minister just returned recently from the United Nations, touting the need for support for our nation to protect and mitigate against the ravages of Climate Change and Sea Level Rise.  Yet, however, we continue to allow foreign entities to come in and extensively demolish those systems which form the very first defense against natural forces.

I earnestly pray at this Yuletide Season that we awaken to our God-entrusted stewardship and protect what has been so graciously and unconditionally gifted to us.  Blessings to all!

 

Joseph Darville. Chairman, Save The Bays.

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