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Wilchcombe: Bahamians' Use Of Cabbage Beach Must Remain 'Indisputable'

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

WITH less than a month before the western public access to Cabbage Beach is set to close, Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe insists the use of the beach by Bahamians must remain "indisputable".

However, despite Mr Wilchcombe's assurance, scores of Bahamians who work on and enjoy the popular Paradise Island beach said they aren't "completely sure" what effect the closure - on December 31 - would have.

One member of the Cabbage Beach Business Owners Association (CBBOA) contacted by The Tribune argued that the move "all but guarantees that we have no more space here to run our daily businesses". Another added: "This was intentional, they are saying that Bahamians can still come, but not mentioning that we can no longer sell the items we sell."

As it stands, the parcel of land providing access to the beach is adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Riu Paradise Island Hotel.

The easement, which has been used for many years, is one of two remaining public access points to Cabbage Beach. The other is further east, by the Paradise Island Beach Club at the end of Garden Drive.

Vendors claim that the eastern easement does not provide the leeway for them to transport products and other aspects key to their services onto the beach.

Additionally, they indicated that once on the beach sections previously zoned to be used by vendors are now considered private property - therefore ruling out the possibility of operating there.

Ownership of Cabbage Beach was transferred from Atlantis (Brookfield) to a subsidiary of Access Industries in 2014. Last month vendors were handed a notice saying it would be closed at the end of December signed by Sandeena Neely, associate legal counsel, and dated November 24.

Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune that he intends to meet representatives of the property in the coming weeks to discuss the use of the beach and arrangements for vendors.

Access Industries earlier this year announced plans to develop the property, which brought the initial notice to close the easement in early October.

Atlantis noted in a statement then that access to the beach over the privately-owned property has always been on a temporary basis and as authorised by the owners.

Asked by the Tribune if the property's new owners could limit access to the beach Mr Wilchcombe said: "Not that I am aware of."

"This circumstance has been allowed to play out like this because they don't want the vendors here, we know that," suggested one longstanding vendor.

"When we first came out here to push our products, it was a small group of us and if you look around today we have a big group. Some do what they want, other do things that cause issues. Some people end up out her the correct way, while others play the system and force their way out here.

"I don't care what message the government is trying to put out there; they knew what was coming. They could have sat down with us and we could have worked something out. When they close this gate (on December 31), some of us will be unemployed while the others do what they do - talk to they MP to get somewhere else."

It is unclear how many registered vendors operate at Cabbage Beach.

There is also uncertainty over the validity of the CBBOA with sources within the Ministry of Tourism claiming that the organisation doesn't represent all the vendors operating at the beach.

Comments

John 6 years ago

Indisputable and not restricted

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years ago

Wilchcombe and the other cabinet ministers of the corrupt Christie-led PLP government have absolutely no intention of forcing the owners of Atlantis to give Bahamians access to Cabbage Beach for the same reason they will never force Atlantis to allow Bahamians to gamble in their casino. Wilchcombe is one of those treacherous (and corruptly worthless) politicians who is quite content with Bahamians being treated as second class citizens in their own country. If you are Bahamian and you want to gamble, you must go to one of the much less glamorous online gaming web shops that have been made legal for (among other reasons) the purpose of keeping black Bahamians away from the white foreign tourists in the hotel casinos. Even now, with Baha Mar still not open, security personnel are chasing Bahamians off of Cable Beach and the great Baha Mar dock that extends well out into the sea! As the number of Chinese residing in our country continues to rapidly grow, Black Bahamians will soon be third class citizens in their country when it comes to access to the more beautiful and pristine properties just about anywhere in the Bahamas. And don't think for a moment that things will be any different if Minnis and the FNM won the next general election. This is why it is so important for Bahamians to vote for the "new comer independent candidate" in their constituency when they next go to the polls. The PLP, FNM and DNA do not represent or respect the rights and interests of Bahamians even though they will each promise Bahamians just about anything (even "free" healthcare") in an effort to retain or gain control of our country; these parties exist only to serve the interests of their own political friends and business cronies. That's the bottom line!

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EnoughIsEnough 6 years ago

why weren't these politicians defending the bahamian right of access to public beaches when ropes were put all along the beach on paradise island where the multi million dollar homes are? we have a legal right to be on those beaches up to the high water mark and not one politician has stood up for those rights. so no one can access by boat. this selective defense of laws is unacceptable.

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MonkeeDoo 6 years ago

EnoughIsEnough: Guess what ? It is the Government of the Bahamas that puts these in. The Port Department I believe. I agree with you 1000%. I used to camp on Long Beach and Victoria Beach and always had access to Cabbage Beach and Paradise Beach. Now you need big money for that.

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Cobalt 6 years ago

Every time that I read the Tribune, I can only laugh at the masses of stupid Bahamians who are now reaping the rotten fruits of seeds sown.

Perry Christie and his PLP degenerates tricked the Bahamian public into actually believing that he had their best interest at heart. "A Bahamas, for Bahamians," was his campaign promise. And now..... Bahamians are once again second class citizens in their own country.

Serves y'all right, Bahamians!! Too many of y'all are too damn stupid!!! Yinna gettin just what ya vote for!

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The_Oracle 6 years ago

Beaches up to the high watermark are still public, the issue is crossing private land to get to them.There is no law that I'm aware of forcing beach front privately owned land to allow egress, save those few rights of way. Go by boat and no one can stop you, although I've had a few foreigners try in Abaco, Exuma, but in their case the realtors/lawyers have mis-informed them, probably to clinch the sale. I had one tell me he owned the whole bay as far as the eye could see!! He and the others stood corrected. The real issue here is the ratio of blocked out beach front vs. still publicly accessible, added to the "vendor culture" and divine rights/entitlement. Yet another example of continuous Government failure.

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Reality_Check 6 years ago

And just how many of us darker Bahamians do you think can afford a boat to take our young children to Cabbage Beach only to be harassed by hotel security personnel the moment we step foot above the high tide mark?

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