The Negril Chamber of Commerce is shocked and disappointed at the approval granted for the breakwater project. It was also unfortunate to hear the decision through the media as NEPA did not extend the courtesy of contacting us directly, although we have been in dialogue with them for months on this matter. It is an indication of the scant regard that NEPA and the NRCA has for the stakeholders who were diligent and vociferous in their opposition.
The resistance was based on several disturbing aspects of the project, primarily:
• That no proper consultation with the community took place and this was admitted to by the PIOJ.
• That the consultants hired to design the project are not coastal engineers and therefore not qualified for this job.
• That the NWA is incapable of executing a project of this nature and size based on their track record with our roads.
• That to date, there has been no consultant hired to oversee the project on behalf of NEPA. This consultant should have been in place to critique the design and monitor the project from start to finish.
• Several qualified coastal engineers have reported that the design is flawed and will not accrete sand as they claim.
• The lack of any proper economic impact study on this project. The results will be disastrous for all, including the numerous small businesses along the West End and will impact negatively on the foreign exchange earnings of Jamaica.
• Stakeholders offered soft engineering solutions but all government agencies refused invitations to attend these forums.
While NEPA insists something must be done to stop beach erosion, they have just granted approval for 152 rooms to be built on Long Bay beach, ignoring the set back laws. Instead of being 150 feet from the high tide mark, they have approved them to have a set back of only 90 feet.
The Negril Chamber strongly believes that unseen forces have contributed to the disastrous decision to dump a large pile of stones into the sea in Negril. It is abundantly clear that NEPA has no intention of doing what is best for the environment or for Negril.
We are demanding that they rescind their decision and put an immediate stop to this senseless project.