by Kimberley Cummins
The money spent to post rangers on the island’s beaches is a waste.
This is according to some hoteliers who last evening voiced their frustration at the current rate of crime and harassment against tourists, specifically on the South Coast.
The meeting was held at the Divi Southwinds Hotel on St. Lawrence Main Road in Christ Church and it was chaired by top officers of the Southern Division of the Royal Barbados Police Force.
Chief of Security at Turtle Beach Resort, Philips Straughn, said he was “amazed” that the main entity responsible for beaches [The National Conservation Commission] “does not play a role” and believed that as a result this was why beach crime continued to be a fundamental problem. Visibly angry, he said that daily the NCC’s rangers saw incidents of harassment and drugs and in some cases did nothing. Furthermore he suggested a reform of the laws covering the operations of ranger and the use of beaches, in addition to a meeting with the NCC heads.
He stressed that until there was a reform detailing how rangers should deal with such incidents, they would continue and stakeholders would as well carry on talking about the same issues while nothing was done.
However, another hotelier added: “We have invited Mr. [General Manager of the NCC, Keith] Neblett on several occasions and he came once. We had lots of conversations and we were going to do all kinds of things — we heard nothing. We had several meetings where we invited him to come and sit and listen to our concerns…”
Manager of the Bougainvillea Resort, Gordon Seale, said the problem with the NCC had been on-going since the 1980s.
“It has been the same problem to some extent. I am sympathetic because if you work on the beach and some of these guys are rough and you have to walk up the road and go home… you have to be around these guys. The only way that we can deal with the really ignorant ones on the beach that are rough is for the police to be in a situation where they do what they have to do,” he said.
“I believe when a guy is giving trouble and you have difficulty with law courts and so on, I do not see anything wrong with the police taking the guys to the station and sitting them down and saying ‘We will be with you as soon as we can’ and you know that ain’t going to happen for at least four hours. If it happens again in another couple of days, you do it again.”
However, Neblett told Barbados TODAY via telephone this afternoon that he believed his rangers played a critical role and were doing a good job in the maintenance, up keep and security on the beaches.
He further stated that in the past few months a number of people were arrested by beach rangers for crime of harassment and robbery on the beaches. They were charged and taken before the law courts and this, he added, was evidence that they were working. Nonetheless, he asked the police to work with them to remedy the situation. [email protected]††
by Kimberley Cummins