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A dredging vessel deposits in Kingstown Bay on April 28, 2023 Sand mined from the seabed off Argyle International Airport.
A dredging vessel deposits in Kingstown Bay on April 28, 2023 Sand mined from the seabed off Argyle International Airport.
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By Observer

I think we are all aware of the EC$20 million deal that the government made, to allow the dredging of sand from the sea just offshore the Argyle airport runway. We’ve seen footage of the vessel extracting sand and dumping it in Kingstown Bay at the area of the port construction. We are also aware that very few have made an issue out of this. Jomo Thomas appears to be the most piercing cactus in this desert of an issue, which is a far cry from the louder voice that echoed when an investor wanted to construct a jetty in the Indian Bay area. The existence of coral reefs in the area apparently saved the day where that was concerned.

Several things have made us ask this question, and we wish to point out a few of them in this publication. Again, the question we are asking is: what exactly is the policy of the ULP government on sand mining?
These are three articles carried by iWitness News.
1. 2017, Sand price could increase as gov’t relooks importation. In this article, Senator Julian Francis is quoted as saying, “But we cannot continue to mine the beaches in St. Vincent, particularly so Brighton and Diamond…”

2. 2018. Gov’t outlines alternatives to mining beaches for sand. In this one, Francis is quoted as saying, “Along with global warming and rise of sea levels, Brighton was being threatened. Diamond is also being threatened. The Brighton area, we took a decision three months ago to cease the mining of sand at Brighton. So, all of the mining was concentrated at Diamond. Diamond is now down to rock bottom — literally.”

3. 2018. Price of sand to increase as Diamond mine closes on Sunday. In this, Francis says “The situation is exacerbating the environmental hazard associated with sand mining on beaches, the minister said, adding that the government will push ahead towards a total ban of sand mining on the nation’s beaches.”
“The minister said that the government intends to move to the importation of sand and utilising the locally produced at Rabacca Dry River.”

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You may argue that the focus so far has been the beach, and not the seabed, but the tone of the narrative suggests a wider environmental concern. What’s interesting here also, is that in 2002, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves – while speaking in the Parliament – attempted to persuade persons to stop removing sand from the beach at Diamond, as it was “causing a great danger” to the landfill. He said “…we want to persuade you, please, you can’t go and damage something which cost so much money, and which is so valuable to this country.”
Enter the 2020 ULP manifesto. Under the subheading Green and Blue Economy, there’s this:
In banning sand mining, and the hunting of turtles, porpoises and parrot fish, the ULP Government demonstrated its commitment to protecting against environmental degradation, notwithstanding the potential economic fallout for those affected by the bans.”

Under the subheading of Climate Change – Environmental Protection, there’s this:
Sea level rise has contributed to coastal erosion throughout Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, most recently threatening Mayreau with destructive wave action.”
Additionally, the ULP government has established a number of laws, regulations and policies to build resilience or protect our precious environment, including bans on sand mining
Dredging is form of sand mining. The manifesto didn’t distinguish between the beach and the seabed. It is, therefore, fair to ask if the government has gone ahead and engaged in an activity contrary to its own laws and regulations — that it claimed to have established — by allowing the dredging of sand from the seabed.
At the United Nations, SVG’s representatives have constantly made remarks regarding climate change and the impact on small developing states. In a 2020 “ULP View” article, under the subheading Small States and the UN, we had this: “… we must acknowledge and act upon the security consequences of climate change, the misuse and abuse of the earth’s resources inclusive of the seabed, and the weaponising of outer space.” As recent as late 2022, SVG’s leader went as far as supporting a call made by the leader of Antigua, which suggests that small island states that are heavily impacted by climate change should seek redress in the international courts; but what really is SVG’s true position on climate change, and the blue economy? What exactly is the government’s policy on sand mining and its impact on the environment?

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

4 replies on “What exactly is the ULP government’s policy on sand mining?”

  1. JOMO S THOMAS says:

    Excellent observations observer. The government knows the climate change rhetoric well. But from time immemorial we were told that action speaks louder than words.

  2. Contractor probably thinks the government is desperate, rightly so and probably not saying anything good about this administration. Poor third world country with an antiquated leader..very desperate to stay in power by any means.

  3. Why the dont take the ship at Rawacou pond and suck out the sand from the pond? Then you can say they doing something.the pond is full of sand and is crying for help.

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