Monday, January 22, 2018

Making a mess of Macqueripe

Macqueripe beach is being destroyed a little more each time the Government decides to "upgrade" what used to be a perfectly enjoyable public beach. This time is the worst, even though it is being done under the watchful eye and with the approval of the Government's Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

The project application seeks to build a sea wall on the beach, and construct a two-way road from the parking lot some 100 feet above, winding down to the beach, so that the "mobility-challenged" could be driven down the steep road to the sea. All of Chaguaramas is flat and easily accessible to the mobility-challenged. Is a road to Macqueripe what the mobility-challenged really need? 

Hundreds of people in the area use this beach for recreation daily, thousands weekly, so why was there no consultation with the users of the beach who know what this beach really needs? 

Further, since Macqueripe beach has had reckless earthworks and partial beach closure for the laying of electronic cables allegedly by Flow and other private sector operators, over the past two years why are we the taxpayers, paying for its repair instead of the ones who did the damage?

It is clear to us after a site visit and an examination of the National Register at the EMA containing the proposal and approval documents, that:

• In what used to be the shady orchard leading down to the beach, only one of the 15 to 20 bearing fruit trees has been left standing. The EMA approval specifically permits only 20 per cent of the steeply sloping site to be cleared, but 100 per cent of the site has been bulldozed.

• The approval states that silt traps are to be erected prior to the earth works, but there are none. Instead there is 20-inch deep slush pool at the bottom of the hill and it overflows into the coral reef bay every time rain falls.  

• Only some of the stone baskets in the proposal have been built, resulting in the entire muddy slope sliding down to the bay—the beach is now muddy brown .

• There is no drainage along the slope where the road has been bulldozed despite the EMA specifications, and the hand-built stone walkway is now cracking apart, and the drain alongside it has separated from it, causing the rain water to erode six-foot cavities under the walkway. 

• Contrary to the approvals, the beach has been used as a dump site, littered with bulldozed concrete slabs with steel outcrops which are now embedded in the sand and will be almost impossible to remove without further damage and major earth movement, since the sand has buried these outcrops, raising the level of the slope of the beach.

By law the EMA should charge the offender and issue a violation notice with its attendant obligations, but will they? Are violation notices reserved for the private sector only? The CEO of the EMA must uphold the law for private as well as public sector entities if the EMA is to regain the nation's respect and help to halt the almost constant Government-led degradation.

Gary Aboud

Secretary, Fishermen

and Friends of the Sea