Submitted by Nathan ‘Jolly’ Green
Have Sandals been told the truth about Buccament Bay Resort? I ask the question because Ralph Gonsalves may just have forgot. Nothing to do with mendaciousness although that did cross my mind. So, did you tell them, comrade?
Have Sandals been warned that Buccament Bay Resort sits on an ancient and historic flood plain which has flooded several times in the memory of man? It last severely flooded in December 2013 when several employees of Buccament Bay Resort, then being operated by Harlequin, drowned. Also, several villagers perished in the flooding leaving the whole nation aghast.
There is no way to know when it will flood again, today, tomorrow, next week, next year, in ten years? There is absolutely no way of knowing and no way to prewarn when the flash flood will occur, night or day. If it happens again, or more positively when it happens again, because it will, as it has done for millions of years, people could die again. Perhaps once again when least expected guests and employees will perish.
Some rock filled gabions placed, and river defence have been carried out since the last flood. But that is, in my opinion, inadequate in containing the ferocity of the Buccament river flooding when it occurs, more so if a sea-surge takes place at the same time.
I am not even sure Sandals can insure against such a risk seeing it is beyond being a risk and is an actual reoccurring event waiting for when next to happen.
The Buccament flooding is classified in law as a 100-year event. Which does not mean it will only happen every 100 years. It means that it is an event that will occur once in every 100 big cloud bursts or storms. If you had a hundred of those in a day, there are probabilities that such flooding will occur. If it happens in a week, then once a week, if it occurs in a year once a year etc. A 100-year flood is a flood event that has a 1 in 100 chance (1% probability) of being equalled or exceeded in any given year. A common misunderstanding is that a 100-year flood is likely to occur only once in 100 years. There is approximately a 63.4% chance of one or more 100-year floods occurring in any 100 years.
The 100-year flood is also referred to as the 1% flood since its annual exceedance probability is 1%. For coastal or lake flooding, the 100-year flood is generally expressed as a flood elevation or depth and may include wave effects. For river systems, the 100-year flood is usually shown as a flowrate. Based on the expected 100-year flood flow rate, the flood water level can be mapped as an area of inundation. Areas such as Buccament which adjoin the coast can also be flooded by combinations of the tide, storm surge, and waves. So, in the case of Buccament, there is not just the probability of the flood plain being inundated by water from the river and extreme runoff from the surrounding mountain arena. But also, from inundation by sea surge, if both happened simultaneously, the whole resort would be swept into the sea.
The current villas are built without foundations; they are built on concrete slabs. Such construction in a flood plain and sea surge area is bad engineering because, in such environments, slabs and villas can quite simply float away. The initial planning before construction called for the raising of the land by ten feet, pilings, and footings for the villa bases. But Harlequin decided to cut costs at the expense of safety and security and abandoned that engineering necessity. So basically, the structures are unsafe for habitation in the floodplain and sea surge area that Buccament is in.
So I hope that Sandals have appropriately been made aware of the problems at Buccament, if not they are put on notice by this letter/article, that now knowing about the risks they will be fully responsible for claims against them at some time in the future. It will not be classed as an act of God but an unpreventable tragedy which they were warned about.
I also at this time enquire if the Court orders in favour of certain people who brought some of the villas, giving them priority payment in full of costs and interest at the time of resale have been satisfied? I also enquire how the PM and the government can enter a contract of sale when the property is in the hands of a receiver/liquidator/administrator legally appointed by the court?
I am not sure precisely what kind of deal has been signed, I suspect it is an MOU.
The legality of sale seems to have been taken care of; this was published after I wrote this letter – [Did you mention compulsory purchase comrade, mmh?]
Sandals needs to be very aware that they for the sake of their investor and shareholder get proper surveying carried out, and an accurate report on the flood-plain aspect before they conclude any deal. It is most unfortunate that Harlequin never took those precautions, so they were unaware of the flood plain aspect until it flooded, and several employees were drowned in the raging torrent.
Sandals will have an international airport in the equation; Harlequin only had the promise which never happened in their time. Harlequin would have had a chance of success if they had the airport operational.
To finish, I would like to enquire if PM Dr Ralph E Gonsalves wife, Mrs Eloise Gonsalves will have a contract to carry out the interior design and furnishings of all, or some of the Villas when they are finished as she had with Harlequin.
Also, just one more request, I must ask if the comrades’ cousin, Senator Julian Francis, will be acting as Mr Fixit for Sandals as he was for Harlequin. He invited people to go to him if they needed help with Harlequin; it is recorded in several news stories.
Oh! Something else, will the ex-Harlequin employees get the wages and severance they did not get from Harlequin? You have made no mention of this, please tell us their status for payment. Is there any provision for those workers that worked for months without pay, only to be dumped with no severance?
Here are a few useful articles on the matter, there are over a thousand if you check out your search engines.
Harlequin denied they built on a flood plain, but that denial is worthless because it is a fact that they did. Perhaps they did not knowingly build on a flood plain, because they were probably never told or warned, or their now-deceased lawyer never did any searches. But the fact is that they did build on a flood plain, and the resort remains on a flood plain, and always will.