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law

Your right to free, unlimited, restricted and costly access

Bahamians are up in arms over the right to access certain parts of the beach on Paradise Island. This is the gist.

Bahamian law states that All land in the Bahamas up to the high water mark is for public property. It cannot be sold, this means that any Bahamian has a right to access that land. in addition this means that the owners of property adjacent to that land should provide reasonable access to the beach and it is illegal to obstruct that public access point.

Paradise island is mostly privately owned by large hotels and resorts. Bahamians that work on the island need to access the island via bridges that connect Paradise Island (PI) to Nassau. (You have to pay to cross the bridge)

Historically, once you were on PI, you could get to the beach through a path next to Atlantis’ phase one next to the Riu Hotel through the Casuarina trees. the road there came directly from the bridge. On the beaches you would find various vendors and jet ski operators, braiding hair and selling trinkets. Development by Atlantis has blocked direct road and so you have to drive around a ways to the path through the Casuarinas. an alternative access point was further east near the Paradise Island Beach club.

Occassionally, there were security officers from the Atlantis or other hotels posted there (they have a fueling station there). They would often tell you that there was no beach access. They are just following orders. When you inform them that you are a Bahamian and you have a right to access the beach and that there is a labeled beach access point there, they never challenged me on the topic.

So anyway, now they have blocked of the access points again. This happens every few years. The result? Vendors who need access to the beaches block the bridge.

Here is the problem. You have a right to a resource, but the avenue to the resource is not free. You pay to cross the bridge, most likely in a car, you face harassment etc by employees of property owners and the access points are hidden, restricted or obstacles are placed in front. This will always be an issue until it becomes a problem.

In a few days the access will be restored and then the people will calm down. but it will happen again.
I suggest installing a permanent footpath on all of the beach access routes. government pays for it and the people can see it is theirs and land owners can see that is not theirs, but guess what? Bahamians will also need to respect the laws…more on that later.

For now, check out the Bahamas Public Parks and Public Beaches Act, 2014 and

 

Leno Davis

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Legal Science

These links speak to what others are doing in terms of science used as evidence in legal proceedings.
In this era of environmental degradation and our attempts to use legal avenues to stop, challenge or remediate environmental impacts, we need to go about it in the right way. I am not saying that any of the sites have it perfectly worked out. I am saying that the discussion has started and they make some great points. We need to start the discussion in the Bahamas.

http://www.environmentalevidence.org/http://eppi.ioe.ac.uk/cms/

http://www.evidentiary.com.au/index.html

http://www.cochrane.org/

Leno

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