CONSTRUCTION, DEVELOPMENT,
hidden agendas AND OUR ISLAND'S BEACHES

For the latter part of the year 2021, the beaches in Trinidad and Tobago saw an absence from public attendance, recreational activities and general human interaction. While some environmental activists, and other advocates for protection of coastal areas, and marine spaces welcomed the down time, other activities continued.
Activities which have in most cases gone unnoticed and ignored by the general population, and by extension the authorities.

There are a series of business driven and construction oriented activities that cause such occurrences and are often dismissed or seen as 'no big deal', in the eyes of the average citizen. The reality of such operations are in fact part of a wider scope of the problematic existence of the abuse towards our natural environment.

In every country, or jurisdiction, construction and building is always seen as a form of development. Whether that development is sustainable or even environmentally friendly, is another story. Having noted this, the objective of most construction industry practitioners, sub-contract operators, machinery and raw building material providers is to gain a profit by using any means necessary, inclusive of mining or extracting material from any location possible.

A pandoras box is often opened when we begin to unpack the economic gains of some construction companies and the subsidiaries of. One would think that with all of the financial and monetary gains obtained, a more caring approach would be taken to extractive industries and their footprint in general.

As aforementioned, any fraudulent, dishonest or even illegal activities in due course of gaining economic benefits hardly provokes revulsion from the general public.
This highlights an even bigger problem, which is a lack of education as to what illegal activities to look for and how said activities affect the natural environment, and the next generations (those to come thereafter also).

Citizens ought to know what to look for, and it would be in their best interest to report any illegal extractive industries and operations that have developed or are in the process of mushrooming over time.

A lucrative industry stemming from an illegal practice:
The issue of beachfront or sea sand mining always crops up as a discussion amongst people who are environmentally minded, and even in various localities that occupy coastal regions of any small island developing state, this has emerged as a dirty little secret of many building and construction entities.

Even the small machine operators that look for their next dollar by pushing off sharp sand, aggregate, rotten rock, and other required materials needed for development are grossly responsible for many activities that contribute to environmental degradation. One common practice seems to be the mixing of sand derived from beaches, and other coastal areas, to be mixed with other materials, to be passed off as sharp sand which is an important or key ingredient in construction operations.

This may seem like an excusable occurrence to a regular man on the street or John public, but it is in fact illegal. Added to that it contributes to the buyer having significantly lower standards of building materials for use, and by extension having a headache on their hands should that material not hold effectively or have expected longevity.

Faulty structural framework has become evidence that sea sand mining for mixing with other material has become so common placed, that it's only through failed construction projects, anyone seems to sit up and take notice, which prompts questions to be asked only long after the fact.

Tobago given it's unhindered access to the beachfront by heavy machinery and in some cases smaller scale mining activities, makes it a bit tricky to navigate in terms of clamping down on such practices and operations. While it is good that many people see the construction industry as a lucrative and pivotal part of the island's development, nothing should be left to chance, and legislation or environmental consultation for protecting our coastal spaces should be high on the agenda for discussion amongst our lawmakers, and officials in public office.

Additionally, framework on a local governance structure level, which allows for proper reporting and documenting of any operations should be encouraged across the board. By creating such avenues, citizens would feel more compelled to get involved and have a say, knowing that the authorities would be more proactive in catching the perpetrators of such illegal activities.

The time is now to find out where the 'holes' on several beaches island wide have come from. Undoubtedly it is hard to justify the landing of aliens or any extra terrestrial activities being responsible for the obvious extraction of sea sand from our shorelines. These said holes on beaches can only be chased up, if our friendly village councils, community based organizations and the like, are educated and made aware of what to look for.

Additionally, the average citizen must continue to act as the perpetual watchdogs for the island regardless of affiliation to any organization or activism group. The urge is for the next generation to pick up the mantle and let their voice be heard on such issues, as in the future, someone just may sell to them a product that is sub-standard, and no house built on a foundation that is unstable will stand to the test of time.
Danger can be nowhere near an exciting proposition when lives can be lost and life savings reduced to crumbled debris on the ground.


Pictured above:
Stockpiled material, mixed with sea sand to be sold and transported elsewhere.