DEPUTY Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investment and Aviation Chester Cooper.
File Photo: Donovan McIntosh/Tribune Staff
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
MINISTRY of Tourism officials plan to meet soon with representatives from Access Industries about Cabbage Beach access, Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said yesterday.
Mr Cooper told The Tribune yesterday that the Davis administration believes having beach access in The Bahamas is the right of all Bahamians. He said the government also respects the rights to private property.
In June, vendors who operate on Cabbage Beach protested after an access point to the beach was closed off and they found their property removed from the beach and stacked on the side of the road.
A company called Access Industries, the entity that owns the property, said the entry point to the beach was closed for safety purposes while clearing work for a condominium hotel is being done.
The access point in question, which vendors used to transport their wares on and off the beach, remains closed.
“My office has reached out to the presumptive owners and will meet with their representatives shortly,” Mr Cooper said yesterday. “Whilst we are respectful of private property rights, the Davis administration believes that beach access is a fundamental right of all Bahamians.
“We will take whatever steps necessary to ensure adequate beach access on every island of The Bahamas, including Paradise Island.”
When the vendors made the early morning discovery in June, they found that a fence had been erected overnight blocking the access point.
The irate vendors at the time said they were not advised of the beach’s closure by the developers of the private property which is located next to the entrance to the beach.
Then Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said he was “blindsided” by the move. The Minnis administration did not demand the beach be reopened.
Former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis marched with protestors while he was in opposition in 2016 to remove a fence blocking the same access point.
During his last term in office, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham had fences erected by private homeowners to cordon off access to beaches torn down. Mr Ingraham said no Bahamian should be forbidden from going on any beach as no beach in the country was private.
The vendors took matters into their own hands in June and tore down a portion of the fence and accessed the beach. No one was arrested.
Access Industries noted that the public can still readily access Cabbage Beach at Beach Club Drive, off Paradise Island Drive, or consider Junkanoo Beach or Montagu Beach on New Providence.
The company said in a statement in June that the condo-hotel project is expected to generate more than $250 million in economic activity and will include jobs in construction, tourism and related sectors, and will involve continued local participation featuring Bahamian workers, artisans and others, including in its restaurants and retail offerings to the public.