By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts- (NOVEMBER 2017): A self-employed business operator at Cockleshell Bay, located at the South East Peninsula, is disappointed that a “manmade hurricane” has destroyed his beach bar.
Owner of Going on the Beach (a beach equipment rental business for chairs and umbrellas) 54-year-old Dwight ‘Gong’ Molyneaux spoke with this media house this week house describing his situation following an alleged governmental bulldozed activity, carried out on Friday 24thNovember without notice, in demolishing his wooden beach bar which costed him about EC$15,000 of the overall EC$20,000 business investment.
“They just knocked down my bar and leave it and I had to clean up the mess,” he expressed.
Now, he is hoping to get out of the mess he has found himself in but more than an apology and compensation, he would like permission to reconstruct his bar.
Molyneaux explained that on the day of the incident, he went over to Cockleshell Bay for 10 AM which he usually does and met his bar at ground level.
“I got no notice. Nobody come and tell me anything. I cried like when I attended my dad’s funeral. It was like a very depressing time of my life,” he emphasized.
As to who “They” are who knocked down his bar , Molyneaux informed that the Development Control and Planning Board- referred to as the ‘Building Board’ by many residents- is not taking any responsibility for destroying his bar and has informed verbally that everything was left up to the Tourism Ministry.
At this point, however, it is not quite clear who carried out the demolition which allegedly happened at about 6 AM.
“The Building Board is saying it’s not them; that they leave it up to Tourism. I went to the Ministry of Tourism and there was nobody there to see me.”
In May 2017, a business and occupations licence was issued to Molyneaux and his twin brother Delano.
A compliance notice addressed to Molyneaux, dated 25th August 2017, from the Director of Physical Planning, Randolph Edmead, stated that there had been a breach of the 2009 Development Control and Planning Act, asking him to stop all construction and clear that land space within 28 days or else actions would be taken to address the issue.
In regard to why he started construction although he was not officially given the go ahead, Molyneaux, a resident of Newtown, revealed that he did so after speaking with the Minister of Public Infrastructure, Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd , who happens to be his parliamentary representative.
As understood, Minister Liburd told that he did not see any hindrance because automatically Molyneaux must build something to store the equipment he uses.
He then had to consult Minister Liburd about the fresh issue he met concerning the letter advisory. It was then that the Public Infrastructure Minister stepped in trying to rectify the matter.
Molyneaux believes that whoever carried out the bulldozing activity owes Minister Liburd an apology for what has happened in overstepping his authority.
“Mr. Liburd went to speak to them and they (Building Board workers) called me in spoke to them and they told me they are finished with it because Mr. Liburd already spoke to them. They told me that they spoke to the Minister of Tourism and they are finished with it.”
Molyneaux then went on to share his frustration pertaining to his present problem.
“After two months now on the 24th of November, they went and bulldozed my bar flat to the ground. So I want to know what kind of government is that breaking down people’s bar. The Labour Party government, I never see them do that over the 20 years they been in the government. I never hear about anyone in the Caribbean beach bar has been broken down.”
“So I want them to apologise to Mr. Liburd and apologise to me for mental stress and financial loss,” he pointed out.
Attempts have been made by Molyneaux to contact Minister Liburd about his destroyed bar in seeking his assistance once again.
“My plan is to go back and speak to the Minister because he is my representative; I cannot represent myself because they are not listening to me.”
On Tuesday 12th September this year, this media house visited the spot where the bar had been under construction.
This reporter was shown some stacked up beach chairs in a bushy area as well as a few umbrellas that were covered up using a beach chair.
“I have a problem with a beach bar on Cockleshell where the government has given me a license to operate a business. I went to the Building Board several times about it and got no answers and now I already started to build the bar on the beach and hurricane Irma came and she didn’t blow it down, and God gave our country a chance from that hurricane and here comes man wanting to break down my bar. The Building Board shouldn’t be about breaking down people’s things but to help people do it in the right way because I went there several times and they refused to deal with me,” Molyneaux said to this reporter at that time.
Fast forward to today and he has found himself in a situation which he dreaded and thought was no longer an issue.
“I was so happy when I got through after all the things I had to go through. I didn’t know that this would take place. I went to the office to speak to them (Building Board workers) and they said everything is all right, telling me that they spoke to Minister Liburd but it’s like they fool me, they deceived my trust in the government entity,” he stated.
Informing that his occupation is called a “Professional Beach Man”, Molyneaux explained that he has been operating at Cockleshell Bay for the last three years.
“That’s my job. I’ve been doing it since I was a kid so I need to get back into my profession and do something for good for my island.”
After some difficulty he experienced in trying to get into the construction field, Molyneaux decided that self-employment was the better option.
“So I say since I cannot find no job, I will create my own job. I see an opportunity and I grabbed it.”