By INIGO 'NAUGHTY' ZENICAZELAYA
AS we approach our 44th Independence celebrations, I truly hope we gain ‘independence’ as a nation from certain types of foreign investors, investors with only their personal gain in mind, with little or no concern for Bahamians.
Take for example the fiasco unfolding before our eyes in Bimini, with little or no response from the Government.
The island of Bimini’s future is hanging in the balance right now, at a critical tipping point.
Over the past 20 years, RAV Bahamas (owned by Gerado Capo) and more recently RW Bimini (owned by Genting) has been accused of being unfriendly to Bimini’s natural resources.
Pleas from numerous, Environmental Agencies, Bone fishermen, International supporters, scientists and locals alike, seem to continue to fall on deaf ears, no matter the administration.
Environmental Impact Studies have shown over and over that our shores are under huge environmental impact.
50 per cent of Bimini’s mangroves have already been destroyed.
Mr Capo is reportedly getting ready to fire up the diggers and bulldozers again and rip out more land that was quoted in 2000 as being “the highest priority in the whole Bahamas” in need of a MPA.
And still nothing has happened, the resort is still advertising more houses, another hotel, a golf course and a 100 acre water park on East Wells. Which is an MPA.
Mr Capo lures in foreign investors by giving the impression he’s untouchable, operating with free reign from the government.
Biminites have reported and will go on record, to how Capo, gloats over having bought out both sides of the political divide, making careful choices in the “friends” he chooses to entertain.
On March 2, 2017, Capo signed a deal with the PLP Government for the approval and go ahead of an 18 hole golf course, on land on the North Sound, part of the MPA.
A golf course requires 18 million gallons of water a year, that’s 1.5 million gallons per month, just to keep a golf course green, this on an island that already has insufficient infrastructure to supply local homes and businesses.
On Memorial Weekend, he was quoted as saying: “This was the worst weekend we ever had due to insufficient water and power to maintain effective running of the resort.”
A few days later, a letter was issued to his management and directors of the resort stating that in future, power would be switched off to settlements in Bimini and to his workers dorms between 5-10pm daily, in order for enough electricity to be saved for the resort to function.
Phase 1 of this development, promised improved infrastructure and a new water plant for the island. As of today, none of which was carried out and now locals will suffer with no power or water, in order for the resort to run effectively.
We are left to wonder whether Mr Capo has any concern for Biminites or the future of this island,or whether his only concern is completing his personal agenda, at all costs, especially to Biminites.
Not to mention the other promises of a new school, the improved and extended clinic, new fire truck, sea defenses, waste management, and most importantly the entrepreneurial opportunities for Biminites.
Also the low cost housing for Resort workers?
Ongoing, Environmental Impact studies?
None of it has come to fruition, instead what Bimini has gotten in return, is diminishing fish stocks, diseased and dying marine life, and alarming rate of coastal erosion, dying reefs, which in turn means diminished marine life, and a big kink in our food chain.
There is no denying Capo’s projects in Bimini appear quite successful ascetically, however the number of visitors to Bimini is to great ecologically and socio-economically for Bimini, thus creating a negative impact ecologically with intense pressure on local natural resources.
Resorts World lost $48 million last year, with the major complaint being “insufficient infrastructure to accommodate guest needs”, but instead of implementing the mitigation measures laid out from 2008 in the Vetch report, Mr Capo and Resorts World Bimini continue to run roughshod over these islands at Biminite’s expense.
Ironically enough I bumped into fellow activist, and friend, QC Fred Smith in Taj Mahal recently, and I asked him his opinion on all that has transpired in little old Bimini?
Never shy, Mr. Smith offered up these remarks:
“Bimini the abomination!
No respect for the locals or the environment; the mischief and disrespect at the route of anchor projects; secret heads of agreement; unregulated development; allegedly secret deals with the office of the prime minister; no freedom of information; hypocritical ineffective local government; abuse of the environment; disrespect for historical cultural, and social local rights;
It feels like a broken record sometimes, I’m so exhausted by the dictatorial office of the prime minister in Nassau treating all of the family islands as if they are colonies of New Providence to be exploited for their natural resources by secret deals made from glossy brochures by foreigners, simply pulling the wool over the eyes of our inexperienced non-business minded and more often than not corrupted politicians.
Heads of agreements and anchor projects are like a virus, which have infected the body politic of politics in the Bahamas for decades.”
What will be left for future generations to come in Bimini?
With the main food source dwindling and all the wild life destroyed?
What will be their legacy, a casino Bahamians can’t gamble in?
The golf course too expensive for locals to play on?
The Hilton Hotel comparable to any other in the world?
Trust me, I’ve done tons of road gigs in my 20 year career as a professional stand up comedian, US, Canada, the Caribbean, all the Hiltons look the same.
Is this really what Bahamians, especially Biminites, want for Bimini, and more importantly is it truly what’s best or right for the island?
Or is it more important to preserve beauty of Bimini and all it’s natural resources?
Ask yourselves those tough questions Bahamas!
I’m quite sure there is a large contingency of Biminites who are grateful for the creation of jobs and new sources of revenue for Bimini, but what is in place now is more than adequate and sufficient for all parties concerned, locals and foreign investor alike.
According to the new Government “It’s the people’s time.”
So I implore the Minister of Environment, Marathon MP Mr. Romauld Ferreira, to do what is morally right and implement the MPA to save all of our islands for Bahamians and for future generations to come.
Meanwhile very few people take into consideration, the Bahamas being such low lying islands, are under critical threat from Global warming and rising sea levels.
Each year we are seeing more and more coastal erosion, sea walls disappearing, no more projects to aid in the erosion.
No more projects such as the epic failure, the cruise pier.
You remember the project in Bimini, that called for dredging for a cruise ship pier, that was rendered obsolete in just over a year, leaving dive sites and other marine areas buried with silt.
So as we look to celebrate 44 years of Independence, as a nation, let us learn from our past mistakes moving forward.
So we can truly move “forward, onward, upward, together”.