Further to my last blog post on the ongoing environmental destruction in East Portland, I am sharing below a press release from Stand Up for Jamaica (SUFJ). Like many other Jamaicans, they are shocked by the ongoing destruction of a relatively untouched beauty spot, which is dear to the hearts of many (both locals and visitors); and disturbed at the apparent lack of consultation with residents. In 2019, the new James Bond movie, which was subsequently delayed by the pandemic, was being filmed there! Much of the cast and crew stayed at Gee Jam, a hotel on the hillside just above the scenes of destruction now taking place. I wonder what they would say if they saw it now.
And, by the way, family members living overseas, with whom we have spent happy times in this area, had several words for this development, including “bloody disgusting” and “horrible.” Paradise lost!
Here is SUFJ’s press release:
Stand up for Jamaica was made aware of the damages produced by the Coastal highway between Harbour View and Port Antonio.
We received pictures and footage from residents in the area showing that to widen the road, trees have been cut, hillsides have been excavated, – with the grave risk of landslides in a region, Portland, where rain is quite frequent.
Pictures show the Blue Lagoon area, a historical, magic tourist attraction, where bulldozers radically changed its landscape without any concern of commitment to preserve its unique beauty.
The building of a relevant project should have been planned together with the parish authorities, with the parish people, with community organizations, to ensure that the proposed action is benefitting the area. No public meeting was held to inform about and discuss the project in a location which is well known for its beauty, its bird sanctuary, for the environmental value of its vegetation, and for the added value these specific features promote towards a quality tourism product, the main income for Portland.
An environmental assessment should have been done to ensure that the highway is built in accordance with the respect for nature and the well being of tourism.
Communities will have to face a high speed road across their main road. Where is the respect and care towards all schools, churches, business activities, hotels and guest houses, where people will be at risk ?
What kind of mitigation is planned along the works time frame to protect residents health from dust and noise?
Would that be a water truck passing by once per day to sprinkle the road?
How will all businesses manage for months, where they won’t be able to operate – as an additional challenge to the COVID-19 economic crisis?
When we talk about progress, we need to take account that such word means to improve the quality of all lives. This is a basic right and affects everybody.
We ask the National Works Agency (NWA) to suspend their works and open a frank dialogue to all those affected by a choice which has been taken far from any democratic confrontation.