For many Jamaicans (including my family) Winnifred Beach, usually spelled with two “n”s, in East Portland is a haven of peaceful relaxation, a gentle “vibe,” and crystal clear waters. It is also one of the few public beaches left in this part of the parish. Until recently, the access road was incredibly rough and rocky, descending the hill from the settlement above, which has grown into quite a large community in recent years, with rather solid houses, extending to the main road.
Winnifred’s is a favorite beach for Jamaicans (and many visitors), closed for a while during COVID-19. For us it holds countless happy memories. A visit to Winnifred’s refreshes body and soul.
The beach has had its ups and downs. It needs, above all, to be nurtured and protected. Huge efforts have been made to do so by community members over the years. Now comes the horrifying news that sand has been stolen from the beach, on more than one occasion, with trucks driving down there at dead of night.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that sand has been stolen from public beaches, to our great shame. Remember Negril, a few years ago? Remember Duncan’s Bay ? As I recall, a permit for the removal of sand there was given – as it turned out. In these kinds of situations, there always seem to be more questions than answers; I hope we will get some answers, this time.
What on earth is happening?
Who is responsible?
Where is the sand going?
Are the police investigating? Do they have the license plate numbers of the trucks?
The Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society has put out a press release to note this need for support and protection for this precious corner of Jamaica. I hope the police will find out who the culprits are.
Sand theft at Winnifred Beach
The Free Winnifred Beach Benevolent Society is pleased that this serious environmental issue is getting attention. We are actively working with all the agencies involved, including the Police, to find positive ways forward to protect the beach. We have now a person on the beach at night to prevent further incidents.
With reference to the article in the Gleaner on Friday 28 January, we would like to point out that no application had yet been made for the fundraising event to be held on the beach to finance the installation of a protective gate.
The idea was still being developed and had not been confirmed. We are aware that an approval by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) would have been necessary.
After so many years of commitment and struggle for the people of the beach and the community of Fairy Hill FWBS still has no formal recognition of the vital role played in the beach defense and maintenance.
In this regard, FWBBS requests that the UDC recognize that the community members who have cared for and preserved the beach for the past 20 years have the ability to manage, maintain and protect the beach in an appropriate and officially recognized manner in order to defend the environment and develop the beach in a sustainable way.
A proposal has been sent to the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) asking for an official table to discuss the choice of improvements to the beach. We propose a development project that will benefit the community and the tourism industry as a whole.