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Roadblock in Bequia

Roadblock in Bequia

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by Louise Mitchell Joseph Fri April 25, 2014

The dream of Tom and Gladys Johnson was to build a community in harmony with the environment. Tom built many houses along the natural contours of the rock at Moonhole, Bequia, where the only lights in these homes would be the sun, the stars and the moon. This landmark eco development contrasts starkly with the Adams Bay development, now operating literally full ‘blast’ in Bequia.{{more}} Traffic down to Moonhole is now diverted from the traditional public road alongside Adams beach, through the makings of a gated entrance and the private roads of the development.

The trouble that I have with the development is that the developers appear to be engaged in an effort to block and to discontinue the traditional public road along Adams Bay. Residents of Bequia, and of Paget Farm in particular, have used that road for over 100 years to enjoy picnics and strolls along the beautiful Adams beach. On Good Friday I attempted to drive to Adams Beach to conduct a swimming race for the kids of Bequia, to find that the public road was blocked by big stones (photographs attached).

The grapevine says that the plan of the developers is to reduce the public right of way from a road to a footpath. I have called the Planning Department to clarify this, but the answers are quite ambiguous. The latest trend by certain developers in SVG is to build first and apply for planning permission after.

Here is my fear: one day the people of Bequia are not only going to be blocked from driving to Adams Bay, but they will be blocked from bathing at Adams Bay, because the access to the beach will be through a private development and would be restricted.

Being blocked from traditional access to our beaches is an infringement of our rights. We, the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines, are already effectively blocked from some of our best beaches. I see this as a trend that must be stopped.

If we cannot enjoy freely and peaceably the beauty of our islands, then what is our richness, what gems can we boast of, when we are disenfranchised?

Here are stories from Paget Farm resident friends of mine. Young athlete from Paget tells me “Miss Louise I went for a run on the new road down Adams Bay, cause I see they block the one by the beach and I was told that I can’t use this road, that it’s private. And so I just turned around and went back home.”

A worker at Moonhole told me that when he attempts to go home at lunchtime, the dust from the quarry that is being mined by the developers is so bad that he can hardly see the road in front of him and has to cover his face with his shirt… all in the heart of prime tourism developments. I have been told that the reason for the extensive quarrying that is going on at Adams Bay (which displaced the small industry of local female stone crushers), with or without a permit I am not quite sure, is that the hillside needed ‘benching’ to make it safe for residents.

And so I ask, what kind of tourism do we want? Do we want indiscriminate pouring of concrete onto our mountainsides and the removal of our traditional rights of way? And yes, it is possible that a right of way can be taken away. It is possible once no one objects. Well, here goes, I object. I want to drive down to Adams Bay, as I always have and take my kids and grandkids for a swim. I don’t want to pass through any gate where I can be interrogated. That is not a price of development for which I am willing to pay, with the loss of our intangible heritage and rights of our children to inherit that heritage.

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