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Property owners in Barbados have the right to secure their property by way of a fence, guard wall or a simple “No Trespassing” sign. But does this apply to people who own beachfront properties?
To demand that a property owner pay taxes for a significant portion of land to which he or she has no real entitlement to utilise that land at will is unfair.
Here lies the problem. For someone to casually announce that all beaches are public, yet they remain inaccessible to any member of the public due to some form of barricade, or simple prohibition from a property owner in any form, is to trample on the rights and traditions that the people here held dear for generations.
This is most prevalent on the South and West Coasts, where a combination of hotels and private residences were constructed along hundreds of metres of beachfront land that blocks the view of the sea for people travelling along the coast roads. If there is no view, then there is no access.
Need for clarity
One has to be clear if the term “beach” only refers to an area with sand. Take, for example, the area closest to the sea extending from Enterprise Beach (Miami Beach) in Christ Church, all the way to Long Beach via Atlantic Shores and Silver Sands.
You cannot travel along the land area of the beach or sea at various intervals due to guard walls and fencing extending all the way to the end of the rocky terrain.
Should the public be prohibited from walking along the land section of the sea? Are these areas not private?
As a person who grew up with the sea as my backyard (literally), I am passionate, like most Bajans, about our beaches, and am against any beach or area of the land closest to the sea shore being private.
On the other hand, if a man owns property that extends toward the beach or sea by way of an official document that has no demarcation that highlights “public beach”, would it be improper for that man to claim all of his land?
Realignment of boundary lines, new rules and regulations, and greater public access to beaches must be the order of the day [for the] new Government.
Nonetheless, the strongest voice in the country is not the politicians’, it is the voice of the masses.
Abraham Lincoln sums it up this way: “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
– RICHARD JONES