by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
The St Patrick Breakwater project, which falls under the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Programme, and sought to prevent beach erosion in one location, has created another major problem just a few metres down the coastline.
Residents in Mt Craven St Patrick who once applauded the project, are now concerned that the coastline lower down from the breakwater will be eroded. The project started in July 2016 at a cost of $4.6 million and will see the construction of a 1,500-foot breakwater structure from the shore out to the sea and towards the old jetty.
One resident who spoke with NOW Grenada under the condition that his identity would not be revealed, said in a short space of time, the beach area once used for recreation is quickly being eroded by wave action.
“I have been living here 69 years now, [and this is the] first time I am noticing this high tide causing beach erosion. The beach used to be like a playground; we used to play football and cricket on the beach, but this year that is the worst. I want to believe is because of the breakwater.” Another major concern for the resident is the issue of sand mining. “Like they giving certain people rights to take sand here, and that’s wrong.”
Similar concerns were previously raised by Sandra Ferguson in her 1 March 2008 letter to Hon. Kenny Lalsingh, re the St Patrick’s Port and Marina Project, emailed to the media in December. Ferguson wrote:
“Grenada, like other small island developing states, is vulnerable to the negative impact of sea level rise, the result of climate change. Grenada’s adaptation measures calls for the protection of its beaches and mangroves. Land reclamation and infrastructural development that will result in the destruction of the natural coastal area is not recommended.”
She also drew to his attention the ‘proximity of the proposed port and marina to Grenada’s active underwater volcano, Kick ’em Jenny and the threats, including tsunamis, posed to the entire island by eruption of this volcano. What then is the rationale for the construction of such significant economic infrastructure in such a high-risk area?’
Regarding land reclamation, in her letter, she wrote, “I also wish to place on record my strenuous objection to land reclamation to facilitate shopping plazas, condominiums and other commercial complexes.”
In terms of economic and environmental impact, Ferguson noted “The decision to undertake such a massive scale project must be based on some preliminary feasibility study.” She also queried the environmental and social impacts of this proposed project, as well as the impacts on fishing, fishermen, beaches and recreation.
Last month, Ferguson publicly stated that at a recent meeting, the Prime Minister stated: “No, there has been no EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment]. I take full responsibility; I am unapologetic. People’s property were in danger; you had to take action. EIAs slow things down.”
The Breakwater Project forms part of the 2016 Grenada: Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan – with provisions for a marina project, ferry terminal, yacht charter hotel, villas, commercial buildings, and community space.
A Country Poverty Assessment Survey (2008) for Grenada showed the highest incidence of poverty (56.67%) manifested in the parish of St Patrick. Parliamentary Representative for St Patrick West Hon. Anthony Boatswain, said “I believe that this just the first phase of what could be a transformative event for St Patrick. Because once the area is calm, the coastal area is preserved and we create what we call an environment for yachting, then we can see further development taking place.