Dumas: Stage in the sea never got EMA approval

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Cracks on the edge of the newly built stage in the sea at Rockly Bay, Scarborough. – Photo by David Reid

THE controversial “stage in the sea,” which was constructed at Rockly Bay, Milford Road, Scarborough, before Tobago’s inaugural carnival in October, never got Environmental Management Authority (EMA) approval.

So said retired head of the public service Reginald Dumas, who told Sunday Newsday that he visited the structure on Thursday after learning it had developed cracks.

“I checked with the EMA to find out if any permission had been given for the construction of this platform and I was told that no permission had been given. So, I don’t know on what basis the THA put up this,” he said.

Dumas said while he has always been in favour of a carnival in Tobago, “Carnival or not we expect the administration to operate within the framework of the law and this appears not to be the case.”

The stage became a focal point when the EMA said in October that it was one of several infrastructural projects the THA was undertaking without the requisite certificates of environmental clearance.

Sunday Newsday visited the structure earlier this week after it was revealed on social media that cracks had developed closer to the seaward side of the stage.

At that time, THA Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James declined to comment on the issue. He also said the cost of the project and the contractor would be revealed at a later date.

Dumas said when he visited the stage on Friday, it appeared as though the structure was being compromised.

“I did see on one side of the structure, the asphalt covering had not only split but had cracked open and rocks which were a major part of the structure had come loose and were on the sand and the sea is coming in. I am not a coastal engineer but it does strike me the water would be undermining the structure.”

He said he also saw some workmen trying to replace the stones that had become loose

“There were two piles of stones on the platform and the men seemed to be putting back stones in spaces in the structure. I found this very strange.”

Dumas said he was concerned that the situation could cause further erosion along the coast at Lambeau and surrounding villages.

He recalled James had said that, in its haste to get the stage ready for carnival, certainly protocols were not adhered to.

Dumas said, “I don’t know if political expediency is now a justification for breaking the law. And if so, then what message is being sent to the population at large.”

Dumas, who called for an official comment from the THA on the issue, also urged them to reveal the cost of the construction.

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris believes the project was badly planned and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Two weeks after the carnival, he said there are still questions about the contract and cost of the project.

Queries plan for hotel at Kilgwyn Bay

Dumas also called on the THA to ensure that a proper environmental impact assessment (EIC) is undertaken before the construction of a proposed five-star hotel at Kilgwyn Bay in June 2023.

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine made the announcement earlier this week in an address at the 43rd instalment of the World Travel Market in London, England.

“I’m not at liberty to give the name but they are about to start construction in June 2023 at the Kilgwyn Bay area,” he told delegates, adding there were no hotels in the area.

“So you are talking about virgin land, virgin beach opportunities, even more suites to make the romance sweeter.”

Dumas said he hoped EICs will be carried out on the proposed Kilgwyn Bay hotel and others that are being planned for the island “especially at this time of climate change.

“Otherwise, if mistakes are made, it is the coastline and the people of Tobago who will pay the price. So I would want to be assured by the officials both at the central government and in the THA, who have been telling us about these new construction, that all of these prior conditions have been or are being met.”

Dumas also called for public consultation on the project “so that the officialdom, both in Port of Spain and in Scarborough, would be able to meet with the public and receive questions and assure the public to the extent that they can do it, bring their experts in, their engineers, that all will be well.”

He said transparency must prevail.

“Where the THA is concerned they campaigned on the slogan, Leh We Fix Dis, and they must live up to that campaign slogan.”