Government is in the process of taking 16 boat owners to court, after about 15 futile years of trying to get them to remove their vessels, valued at over $2.5 million, from the compound of the Bridgetown Public Market on Princess Alice Highway
Acting manager of the market, Sherlock King, told Barbados TODAY that the derelict, dysfunctional or termite- and rodent-infested boats were not only taking up valuable space in the dockyard and marina, but were also posing a major public health threat to those who did business in the facility. He said as well they were a danger to the vessels of other fishermen.
King said two notices for removal had already been sent out to the boat owners and the final ones were expected to be mailed before year-end.
He disclosed that the markets division, through the Ministry of Agiculture, had had discussions with the Solicitor General’s Office with a view to taking legal action and was also seeking the assistance of the Environmental Protection Department in the eviction process.
The market manager pointed out that these sea craft had been congesting the facility for between two years and nine years, and in one case, 15 years.
“What we are going to do is to send out final notices to them and then . . . ask the Solicitor General to commence legal proceedings to have these vessels removed, especially the ones inside the marina,” the Government official declared.
“My boss has informed that he has already started proceedings to have the derelict/ dilapidated [removed]. We are going to have to have the environmental protection department provide some assistance in this regard, because, generally, what they would do is determine whether or not a vessel is dilapidated or derelict, and that would give them some support with respect to how to approach it [the removal],” King asserted.
“With boats, if you don’t do anything with them, you get problems of infestation . . . termites . . . other vermin; then you have the issue of breeding mosquitoes and so on . . . and other pests, or rats and so,” he noted.
“It is creating major problems on one hand with respect to taking up valuable space, and then the other issue with respect to public health, in that they are creating a harbourage for vermin. In addition to that, what we have also observed is that persons of no fixed place of abode are now taking up residence on these boats; living on the boats; and are also engaging in things like cooking and other activities which are geared towards their survival,” added the Government official.
“So we have,” he continued, “that situation with derelict boats on land, and also problems with respect to boats in the marina itself, which have not been fishing for up to ten, 15 years, and they are physically damaging the facilities. It is a problem for us; it is also a problem for those who are involved in the activity of fishing, because, if a boat may have emergency repairs and want emergency haul-up, there is no space available for them to haul up the boat.”
“So,” King lamented, “it is causing a major problem for the Ministry of Agriculture in getting a handle of the dockyard and of the marina itself.
“We have sent out notices to the boat owners informing them that their boats have been in this situation for ten years. We have given you a period of time to remove the boats. There have been given two notices so far; but what is happening too, is that some people are saying they don’t have any place to keep the vessels, and it is now creating a burden on the state, whereas these vessels remain on the premises . . . and we have had a situation where they have become damaged, and the government had to pay for the damage these vessels have sustained while inside the harbour itself.”
King noted that when these vessels got damaged, the owners then threaten to sue the Government. He revealed that two boats which were damaged by a crane were now the subject of a court case.
King could not say how much money Government has had to shell out as a result of vessels being damaged. Meanwhile BarbadosTODAY has been reliably informed that boat owners in the market owe in excess of $65,000 in docking fees.