January 13, 2022
In the two months since its launch, a growing number of Bahamians have signed the online petition weighing in on the Royal Caribbean Beach Club project on Paradise Island. Concerns about the environmental impact and the shift of income and profits away from straw vendors, hair braiders, taxi drivers and local excursion operators were among the primary issues raised about the cruise line’s proposed $110 million project.
The petition, launched by advocacy group Protect Our Islands Fund (POIF) in November 2021, garnered over one thousand signatures and comments from concerned Bahamians. Many participants urged the government to reconsider the crown land lease deal signed under the former FNM administration.
Shonalee Johnson, spokesperson for POIF said the comments reflect a growing number of everyday Bahamians concerned about the impacts to the environment and the economics of the deal on Paradise Island. “Responses continue to come in through our online petition even as critical questions remain unanswered regarding the proposed project,” Johnson said.
One petition signer wrote, “Please protect the Bahamas [and] its land resources for this and future generations.” Another urged the government to review the impact the Royal Caribbean Beach Club deal may have on the natural environment. “Considering obvious facts that this would be very harmful to our environment, strive to keep our waters clean. Pollution destroys the ecosystem as we all know. I believe we have enough pollution as it is and if we are to have healthy marine life for the years to come, we must prevent such harmful causes.”
Royal Caribbean’s poor track record of handling environmental issues in the region was also highlighted in the petition. Another petition signer wrote, “This is for Bahamians only. This is OUR land [Say] ‘no’ to RCL especially when you see the damage they have done to other islands.”
Other participants questioned the economic benefits promised by RCL. To some participants, the project seemed like a shifting of revenue and profits away from the many small business operators, straw vendors and taxi drivers who’ve supported their families over the years from cruise arrivals in downtown Nassau. One petition signer wrote, “[The Government must] Protect our environment, be guided by the input of Bahamians on this project. Let this project be done to benefit Bahamians and The Bahamas not to just [create] low paying jobs and lifelong environmental damage.” Another petition signer asked, “If RCL wants to invest in Nassau, why don’t they buy land east of East Street and develop restaurants and entertainment options for cruise passengers and Bahamians alike?”
POIF is calling on the Davis administration to address the concerns of ordinary Bahamians and consider them when making decisions on the RCI Paradise Island deal.
Shonalee Johnson said, “We’ve raised questions on the environmental impact of the project specifically related to waste management. Many Bahamians are now aware of the project and want to be assured that the government will carefully consider the potential environmental impact of the project and weigh the real, incremental economic benefits against the negative impacts. Our government must act in the best interest of the Bahamian people and for future generations. It might be that this development on crown land is not in the best interest of Bahamians.”
To learn more about how to protect Paradise Island or to weigh in on the issue, please visit https://www.protectourislandsfund.com/take-action/
News date : 01/13/2022 Category : Press Releases