Saturday 22 September, 2018

Gov’t moves to rehabilitate substandard public beaches

Prime Minister Andrew Holness pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Tourism Enhancement Fund has been working to improve public beaches. (Photo via Andrew Holness' official Facebook page.)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Tourism Enhancement Fund has been working to improve public beaches. (Photo via Andrew Holness' official Facebook page.)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has moved to assure Jamaicans that he has taken note of concerns raised in the media regarding access to the island’s best beaches.

Most Jamaicans are unable to access some of the most pristine white sand beaches for which the country is known as they are literally “owned” by large hotel chains.  With the price to enter these facilities out of the reach of many, access by the ordinary Jamaican is nearly impossible.

“Let me state clearly that the government believes that the beaches are for the access of the Jamaican people,” said Holness as he addressed journalists at his quarterly media briefing recently.

“We must do everything in our powers to ensure that the average Jamaican can have access to our beaches and indeed that is the structure of our law,” the prime minister stated.

He acknowledged that some of the island’s public beaches are in a deplorable state which in itself also limits access. Holness pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Tourism Enhancement Fund has been working to improve public beaches.

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The tourism ministry has recently spent $38.8 million to renovate the Marking Stone beach in St Mary. Boston Beach in Portland has also been renovated with gazebos, change rooms and bathroom facilities as well as lifeguard stations added. And the Prime Minister also noted that there is a programme in train to improve the popular Winnifred Beach which is also in Portland.

“I want the public to know that the government is hearing their concerns and that we have a programme in place (to address the issue).  We are taking note and I’m certain that next year we will have a significant number of our beaches improved so that the public can have access to what was given to us by God and cannot be taken away by any man,” Holness said.

Of 85 beaches listed as being publicly operated by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), only about 13 were deemed operational. The parish of Portland with 17 public beaches only had two that were deemed to be operational in terms of both the beach and facilities. The two are the Boston Bay and Winnifred Beach which is targeted for an upgrade. Seven of Portland’s public beaches need rehabilitation, so too four of six in Westmoreland, and two of eight in St Ann. At least three of St Mary’s five public beaches are in need of rehabilitation, as well as the two in Kingston -  Gunboat and Buccaneer . Only one of four in St Catherine – Fort Clarence, is of operational standard.

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