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By Sheldon Bramble

So just around the corner there is the potential for this country to become a massive environmental nightmare. (I know, you thought I was going to say a tourism haven, but that’s already the promised forecast). That, and a bigger stomping ground for more criminals from nearby islands. I am not being pessimistic about all the wonderful developments we can see from hardworking leaders. But enthusiasm should not cloud realities and the learning of lessons based on past experience here and in similar pieces of paradise on the planet.

Do we see what has happened with the crime situation in SVG? Where are the guns in Vincy coming from and how are they sneaking in? They are surely not walking in by themselves. How many times are we seeing nearby islanders involved in criminal activity here? But we seem unable to have adequate screening and surveillance of why exactly some are here, not staying where they came from and what they might be escaping from?

We were lucky to make a catch of three of them recently, but how many have we already missed or are sitting right under our ignorant noses? Friendliness and fascination cannot afford to accompany dotishness in these times. We are at a place in our history when we loudly need to declare to the world, you are welcome to beautiful SVG if you comply with our rules and regulations and behave yourself, but not welcome otherwise. Fall in line or leave. This is what Vincentians have to do when they go abroad to someone else’s country.

Bequia is still known for its charm and any person old enough will remember the pristine conditions which existed there at Princess Margaret Bay for example. But those days are gone. The dumping of garbage and waste from yachts and beach goers is transforming this gem of a coast quickly into a sad tale of environmental pollution. It might not be visible at first glance, but what’s that in the water am swimming in? It takes leaving for a number of years and returning to see the sad and stark contrast at times. One thing we see for sure it is changing alarmingly fast.

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So, similarly Buccament Bay and its nearby beaches are soon going to be overrun by vendors and activities bringing about a change in this “environment-ignoring nation” who seem to be doing minimal to prepare for it. Do we understand how fragile the tourism product which we have is? Is it an inconvenient truth we are yet to be brave enough to face? Do we want a 10-year-old tourism with a great environment and then it’s gone? Or are we going to be more intelligently forecasting?

Yes, we are boasting of a uniqueness here and that very important quality is about to go through a revolution and we hear of little preparedness towards its preservation. Why? Because we are forward thinking about bringing in business and money but grossly myopic about how the very product which we are excited about will change and can quickly deteriorate into another sad tale of paradise lost. All this because we are failing to prepare for a very important fact – how business coming up shortly will create irreversible impact on nature in Hairouna. Current habits will not suddenly change when things take on a new life of their own.

Where are the environmental education drives and protocols which need to accompany the developments which we are preparing for? Have there been any forecasting studies done? Why are our public not being aggressively educated and sensitised to garbage disposal and food and health safety in these times? Where are the drives that should be preparing all our school and college students towards a way of life that will preserve this country’s environment in the days to come? Improper garbage disposal is a chronic illness in SVG by Vincentians and needs aggressive laws and fines to stomp it out.

Some visitors by sea to our shores are not being held accountable to preserving our coasts. They want to come on their yachts, have a drunken time, dump their waste and leave back to their comfortable permanent homes while leaving us a headache. Are we so desperate for their money that we are being ignorant about our own destruction in the process.

How are we going to send a clear message to them that this is unacceptable and illegal? Are we brave enough to say to our visitors from countries using euros, pounds sterling and US dollars that you are welcome if you comply with this and that and the other but not welcome if you don’t? Are these visitors fined if they dirty up our islands and oceans? Are they going to learn anything from us — the Vincentian people — about environmental preservation and proper waste disposal during their visits here? What can we teach them about their preconceived ideas and stereotypical mindset regarding ‘third world’ countries such as SVG?

Have the likes of our past pirates and colonisers who broke certain ties with us prior to our independence found other ways to return and carelessly enjoy our territory in the name of investments thus seducing us again this time with money while they facilitate us destroying our untouched natural environment. And are they doing this without us making it clear and boldly visible that this time we are not going to squander our freedoms to manage well what we have earned? We must lose the mindset that they all have our best interest at heart. Not by saying no you can’t come, but by showing them how we value and treat what is ours and requiring accountability from them.

More crime and environmental pollution are on the horizons of SVG. These unless we stay 10 steps ahead of what is currently inevitable.

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].

One reply on “To be forearmed…”

  1. The main polluters and despoilers of our precious landscape are our own people, not occasional tourists most of whom are more sensitive to environmental issues than 99 percent of our citizens.

    How can we teach visitors to treat our fragile environment in a respectful fashion when we don’t know why or how to do so ourselves?

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