Safety First

Saturday, July 04, 2009

I'm On The Groynes

When discussing the state of the beach here in Road View/Mullins I have a neighbour who is fond of saying: “It’s the Lord’s works.” I try to caution him about blaming the Lord for human errors but he comes back: “The Lord allowed it to happen.” I don’t know my neighbour to be a great theologian but I do believe the Lord allowed the chance meeting I had with the director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit last Saturday, if for nothing else, to help raise the awareness of the people of Barbados about the dire situation we now find ourselves in ecologically, environmentally and economically as a result of the groynes at St. Peter’s Bay Villas. If there is uneasiness in the offices of the CZMU and Tourism as a result of the negative publicity their “Tourism Environmental Awareness Sundown Beach Walk” has generated in the media and here in the blogsphere, well, there should be. It is about time they took the matter of the groynes seriously.

I did not set out to embarrass anyone. I didn’t even know that the CZMU’s director was leading the walk. While the walkers were passing my location they greeted me in the good old Bajan fashion, I greeted them with a question: “What are they telling you is the cause of all of this destruction?” Most didn’t have a clue -they were along for the bus ride and/or a chance visit the beach (not that there is anything wrong with that). Others said it was simply erosion or global warming, but then a few said the director is coming - why don’t you ask him. So, I did ask him, and my impression is that he is not persuaded that the groynes are the primary cause of the destruction in our area - a mere hundred yards away downdrift of the groynes.  He certainly was only too eager to emphasize that with: “You have to remember that we also know that this area was prone to erosion prior to the groynes.”

This is unfortunate since we know he was approached on this matter when the groynes were going in, warned about the likely outcome, and asked to intervene to stop their construction.  He chose not to do so.  He obviously also knows that battles over the destructive effects of groynes have gone on all over the world wherever they have been built, and even here on the west coast there is precedent for the removal of one in the Holetown area several years ago for the very same reasons I and others are contending over the three in Lower Road View.

No one is against tourism development in the area but we believe that development should be sustainable and environmentally-friendly. The groynes in this instance clearly are not as this blog has chronicled from their very installation three years ago. People are already fearful about losing their property, they should not also have to be fearful about saying so, as regrettably is currently the case. This is Barbados - not the Soviet Union. Politicians and civil servants should be coming together to listen to the people and trying to solve their problems - not ignoring them and looking for new ways to punish and silence them.

It grieves me everyday when I look at the beach I grew up on in Road View laying as if it were the dead body of a family member, buried under boulders and covered by the waves. It breaks my heart on evenings to see the turtles popping their heads out of the water searching in vain for a sandy spot to come ashore to lay their eggs. I have no political axe to grind and until now I wasn’t much of an environmentalist, but I have taken a stand against the groynes not only because I have seen and I am a victim of their destructive power, but because I firmly believe that getting rid of them is a just and righteous cause and the right thing to do. Sooner or later this cause willl prevail.

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  1. Do not give in to the intimidation. Do not let them bully you. Always hit back and hit back hard. Bullies are weaklings pretending to be strong. Keep up the agitation!

  2. I think officials should be embarrassed. I wrote the director of the CZMU myself to tell him that. Keep on talking about it please!

  3. Thanks for the support. Earlier this evening I met the woman who was my babysitter as a child in shock looking at what now passes for a beach here in Road View. It was the first time she was seeing it as she no longer lives in the area. She said it hurts her heart to see it as she recalled the wide beach that once was how it was possible "even in rough seas to walk from Carlton [St. James] straight to the market in Speightstown." She said people who never knew the beach before will never understands how she feels. She left me with the assurance that "this must hurt God's heart too, and He will have the final say."

  4. Well, with all due respect, I must say that I don't think God strikes down anyone these I hope you--and everyone else---can keep up the political and visual pressure.

    Having walked the way from Carlton to Speightstown I can say that within the last year this became nearly impossible, even at low tide, less in rough seas...

  5. I don't think my now 70-yr. old former nannny was calling on God to strike anyone. What I understood her to be saying was that we can do things with nature for a time but ultimately God can and does still intervene. We still call things like hurricanes "Acts of God" (at least the insurance industry still does) and we can get one next week or next month that brings all the sand that was lost and more back in a few hours and at the same time relocate all the rocks in the groynes somewhere onshore or in the ocean. Although I don't think she is praying for a hurricane either, there are limitless other events and interventions that can turn things around for the better, and its to these I think she was alluding.

    Without a doubt we know that the groynes are responsible for most of the damage you see from the former Kings Beach Hotel to the southern end of Mullins Beach where the foundations of seawalls have been exposed for the last two months making it difficult to walk between Mullins and Gibbes beaches. How long before they also wipe out Mullins Beach is anybody's guess, but we do know that what the beach in front of The Great House looks like today was what Kings Beach looked like last year and an entire sandy headland between the two was completely eroded for that to happen. There is no sandy headland between Road View and Mullins and we've all already seen what happened to the beach bar in the spring of 2008.

    Those groynes are a big mistake, and from my reading of the body language and other clues I've picked up through interacting with a few of those in authority - deep down all them know the groynes are a big mistake. They just can't find the political will to say so, which would bring them to taking the necessary corrective actions before it is eternally too late. My hope and prayer is that this blog and this "Save Mullins Bay" campaign help them to find that will.