ST. LUCIANS will know a bit more about the proposed causeway in Vieux Fort by the middle of next month, says Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, by which time he should know exactly what the land bridge will look like.
Chastanet made the announcement on Tuesday in response to a question from a reporter on the latest stage of the causeway proposal which is presently causing a stir among citizens who are divided on whether to accept or reject it.
He said the causeway will not join Maria Islands, which are just off Sandy Beach in Vieux Fort, something that was not emphasized nor made clear when the concept was mooted last month at the launch of the second phase of the DSH project.
“Hopefully, in the middle of next month we may be able to present a more accurate version of what the causeway is going to look like,” Chastanet said.
“I want to emphasize to all St. Lucians that the causeway will not be touching Maria Islands,” Chastanet said.
The St. Lucia National Trust, the country’s premier voice on conservation and preservation of the environment, is against the proposal of a causeway linking Maria Islands to the mainland. So, too, are others in the conservation community who claim the proposal would result in extinction of some of the valuable wildlife that exists on the islands.
The causeway’s critics believe it would be a bridge that would pave the way for non-native predators to destroy the rare reptile species found on the islands. They claim that the islands, which form a nature reserve, is home to critical populations of six endemic St. Lucian reptile species, including the world’s rarest snake, the St. Lucia Racer, which is found only on Maria Major, the bigger of the two islands.
They also claim that to date the sea had provided an effective barrier to predators accessing the islands and that a causeway would remove that barrier.
The concept of linking Maria Islands to the mainland via a causeway was presented by the Chairman of Desert Star Holdings (DSH), Teo Ah Khing. At a recent presentation, he said the ecological, environmental, historical and archaeological elements of the islands would not be disturbed and that his company would preserve, enhance and do detailed research on all the existing wildlife and marine life on the islands.
In a statement last week, government noted that a waterway will exist between the Maria Islands and the causeway and that the artist’s impression of the causeway that was shown last month when it was mooted is still to be refined.
The Prime Minister said DSH was meeting with environmental experts to ensure the proper protocols are in place to protect any species of wildlife that exist on the islands. He added that the causeway’s construction will not erode Sandy Beach.
“Why would somebody want to spend all this money and invest on the Point Sable Area and create a project that is going to destroy the beach area? We will not erode the beaches on the eastern side of the causeway nor on the western side,” Chastanet said.