- Opposition acting as if Petite Police was their favourite picnic spot.
The Petite Police Marina Development, part of a $120 million project to also include a 160-room hotel was presented to the public at the Takamaka Community Centre Saturday.
Presenting the project before a packed hall were officials of the project’s developers, Takamaka Property Development LLC, including its GM, Alejandro Fonseca and consultant Ian Charlette.
What was presented Saturday was the scoping exercise, to consult residents on the project’s impact and other issues. Environment and Energy Minister Rolf Payet, who was also present at the meeting, had the previous evening in the SBC-TV’s “News Extra Programme” stated that the project was a scaled down version of a previous one presented to Government a few years ago, which had been rejected.
At the meeting, he made clear the fact that this was only the start of the consultation process and that no commitment has been made by Government regarding the project.
He also noted that the marina being planned is rather small, rather similar in size to one already operational on Fregate Island.
Saturday’s presentation concerned merely the yacht marina, which will have a capacity of 30 boats. The hotel project is another phase, still being planned, to be presented later. Altogether, the two developments will be carried out on two parcels; at Petite Police and Petit Boileau, totalling 2 million square metres (500 acres).
Mr. Charlette presented the marina and breakwater, to be built at the southernmost tip of Mahe at the Police Bay.
The marina was presented as being an essential part of the development, being built primarily to bring building materials to the site directly by sea for the next phase, which will be the hotel’s construction. It was noted that this is being done to avoid traffic congestion and noise by heavy trucks transporting building materials.
The technicians present also stated that geotechnical tests have been carried out to build the breakwater for the marina, being aware of the heavy tides, currents and sand shifts in the area.
The promoters made clear that the wetlands and important features such as the lighthouse will not be touched. The eco-system is to be protected to the maximum- another clear example of integrated development which government is encouraging.
Concerns were raised regarding public access to the beach, which the promoters promised, will be given all the consideration it deserves.
Some other speakers also claimed that the Police Bay area was a prime turtle nesting site and that this could be affected by marina and hotel development as the reptiles are scared of lights. It was also alleged that the ocean around Police Bay is known for proliferation of sharks, especially the bulldog shark.
It was also stated by Mr. Charlette at the gathering that over 200 of the 3,000 Takamaka residents will be sought to give their views about the proposed development before it goes ahead, whilst the Director General for Environment Mr. Flavien Joubert promised another similar public consultation, before anything is finalised.
It was obvious that many opposition supporters had made it a point to attend the meeting to oppose it just for the sake of opposing- whether they thought the project was a sound one or not.
They had probably heard that an Arab investor is funding it , and so all kinds of wild allegations were made. They were very vociferous in their demands for the promoter’s identity and conditions under which he had acquired the land to be disclosed.
Most of them were not Takamaka residents, yet acted in a way as if Police Bay was their favourite Sunday picnic spot.
It will be recalled that a similar fracas was made before the Constance Ephelia hotel was built at Port Launay. At the time, the opposition politicians and publications had alleged that such development would cripple the large area of marshland there and there would be no public access to the beach.
Today, there is reasonable access and parking area, adjacent to Port Launay beach and in the wetlands, left untouched, the moor hens (pouldo) and other endemic species have continued to thrive and their numbers have in fact increased!