Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins says a long-overdue geotechnical study on the caves in Allen View, St Thomas is underway and must be accomplished in one other three months.
Cummins said once the ultimate report is submitted to Government, she would ensure residents are kept within the loop and have the chance to ask questions and share their views.
Her comments got here on Wednesday because the Cave Amendment Bill, 2022 was debated within the Senate.
The Minister was also speaking on the heels of the announcement by Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde that residents of Allen View who own land near Harrison’s Cave but are unable to construct due to environmental reasons, will soon be relocated by Government.
Cummins recalled that a geotechnical study on Harrison’s Cave was commissioned and scheduled to start several years ago but was delayed on several occasions.
“So we accomplished the work, we contracted the firm – it’s an area firm, and that firm then has a subcontracted partner because as you’ll appreciate, the work, especially on the crown of the cave, is extremely specialised and never every variety of career can take care of the sort of geotechnical work that needed to be done,” said Cummins.
“The subcontracting firm is a Canadian firm and once COVID struck, that company was unable to travel to Barbados to finish the work that was required to start phase one . . . ,” she added, pointing to protocols in Canada that prevented travel over the past two years.
“All the best way from 2020 into 2021 we didn’t have that work undertaken. That work is underway now and the expectation is that there can be work accomplished – all three phases can be accomplished – by the subsequent three months, and we can be ready once and for all, to provide a definitive report of the fissures that were first detected several years ago on the crown of the cave,” added Cummins.
She said she has already met with Forde and briefed her on what the technicians were working through in order that the MP can share expectations and timelines with residents.
“We did have, last yr, a series of townhall meetings and we did walk door to door at the entire communities that were affected and we spoke to people directly,” said Cummins, dismissing suggestions there was no communication.
“Once that report has been done, we’ve given a commitment at the federal government level that we are going to request not only the technical report, but we’ll request a layman’s report so that folks are capable of read what these items really mean . . . and in addition to facilitate town hall meetings with the residents of the realm who’re affected so that they have the chance one-on-one to ask whatever questions they feel are vital to them . . . . We give that commitment again,” promised Cummins.
She also noted that by September, she was also hoping to be ready to offer an update on the chance for further investment in caves across the island.
Cummins noted that a steering committee has been put in place and the Board of Caves of Barbados Ltd has now been tasked to ask proposals for consultancy services “on how Barbados can leverage this vast network of caves and within the reverse, the gullies adjoining it . . . .”
“We’re very happy with what work has already been done. We’re excited concerning the potential that the work now shows us might be done elsewhere, and we’re committed in fact, to the communities that anchor these items,” said Senator Cummins, as she noted that the Caves Amendment Bill governed all caves on the island and never just the Harrison’s Cave. (MM)