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Mayreau residents will take matters into their own hands if work does not begin by July 15 at Salt Whistle Bay

Mayreau residents will take matters into their own hands if work does not begin by July 15 at Salt Whistle Bay
Munro Forde

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If Government does not begin work on the temporary reinforcement of Salt Whistle Bay by July 15, residents of Mayreau say they will recommence their efforts to prevent the erosion of the beach.

As far as the residents of Mayreau are concerned, Salt Whistle Bay is in a dangerous state, and it will only take one hurricane or a strong storm to erode away the narrow strip of land that remains in part of the picturesque bay.

Therefore, earlier this year, on May 23, residents set about using conch shells and manpower to set up a natural barrier to the wave action responsible for the damage.

The idea to use conch shells had been expressed by an engineer that visited the Bay in 2019, with Minister of Economic Planning and Sustainable Development, Camillo Gonsalves.

However, following the community effort, Gonsalves, in Parliament on June 22, 2020 asked the residents involved to desist from placing conch shells at the severely eroded area because it was making the problem worse as the waves would batter them against the eroded isthmus, further eroding it.

While a long term solution is still some time away, the Government promised a short term one.

“The most readily implementable programme would be a series of boulders right along the contour of the isthmus and various geo textile materials,” Gonsalves informed, stating that three companies tendered responsive bids for the project of the temporary reinforcement and that they were being considered by the Tenders Board.

After this message in Parliament, Munro Forde, who helped spearhead the “Save Our Salt Whistle Bay” initiative in May, said that they halted all activity that they were doing.

“We were quick to comply with them in terms of them asking us to step back, and allow them to do the work, and we were happy to do that, we didn’t waste any time in terms of stepping back,” Forde stated, speaking to SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, July 13.

When the announcement was made in Parliament Forde said that he was happy. “It’s been a while now, we’ve been pleading with the Government, notifying them as to what has been taking place in terms of the erosion and what we wanted from them was a response to the situation, and they responded,” Forde explained.

However, the Mayreau resident noted that although it was said that the work would be expected to begin in the second week of July, the work “hasn’t started as yet.”

Further, he claims, there has been no communication with them on the matter recently.

The only message they received is said to be from the Senior Consulting Engineer in the Ministry of Finance, Cecil Harris. The said message, posted on the Facebook page of the Mayreau Regatta, also involved in the community effort, notified the parties of the three companies and their tendered bids for the project, and reiterated that work is expected to begin in the second week of July.

“Mathematical checks and evaluation is planned this week (July 3)”.

“We are close to securing funding for a comprehensive coastal study in the area to ensure that any intervention does not make matters worse,” the message reads, before requesting that the community effort be put on hold.

“…Since then nothing, no update, there was no follow up or anything,” Forde commented.

In light of this, the unhappy resident says, “once anything isn’t sorted around the 14th, 15th, we would continue to do what we’ve been doing, which would be to continue to fill up the area with shells and stones and whatever we could find to do it.”

He informed that the conch shells have not appeared to be battering the beach as they put boulders around the shells.

However, Forde says that they are hopeful that the Government is “gonna stick to their word and they’re gonna do exactly what they promised the people of Mayreau that they’re going to do.”

If work at the site does not commence by this date, they are prepared to recommence, with the plans that they had before. They had secured machinery, had been able to prepare fuel, and had secured, with help, truckloads of conch shells.

“If anything isn’t done or if no one gets in touch with us by the weekend…to at least to give us an update to say well work was scheduled to start but we having a setback with something…,” the Mayreau resident contemplated.
They had finished a substantial amount of work before the announcement was made. A GoFundMe had been established for funds to help the effort but was stopped when the announcement was made.

For those that contributed funds, Forde informs that they are waiting on the Government to commence the project, and then they will decide what must be done.

“We need to give accountability to them (those who gave funds) but nothing so far, if any it would be very little, has been touched from that GoFundMe account,” he said.

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