A mammoth seafloor dredger, dubbed ‘The Reef Destroyer’ by local environmentalists, has arrived in Bimini as developers forge ahead with construction of a controversial ferry terminal despite a top judge’s stern warning.
The 450-foot, 1,200 ton Niccolo Machiavelli is a specialized cutter-suction dredger designed to break up hard material which standard dredgers cannot remove. It is among the most powerful machines of its kind, and is set to be unleashed on one of the most pristine and significant marine ecosystems in the world, environmentalists said.
“That monster dredger cannot be allowed to tear up the seabed off the coast of North Bimini,” said Fred Smith, QC, attorney and one of the directors of fast-growing environmental movement Save The Bays. “There are 14 world-class dive sites and some of the most sensitive and important reef systems on earth there – many of them directly in the developers’ intended path of destruction. Resorts World Bimini is being allowed to move full speed ahead by a government that has failed in its mandate to act in the interest of Bahamians – and this despite a strong warning from one of the country’s top judges.”
Last month, Court of Appeal Justice Abdulai Conteh told lawyers for the government and Resorts World Bimini that construction should not be allowed to progress while the project is being challenged in the courts.
“In a democracy, no self-respecting government would do anything to jeopardize proceedings before the court. When there is a contested issue, one should not change the facts on the ground until a decision is made,” the judge said. “It’s more than a precept, and it is applicable in the Bahamas – it’s about the rule of law.”
Justice Conteh’s comments came as part of the ongoing appeal by Save The Bays and the Bimini Blue Coalition against a Supreme Court’s ruling that unless Smith’s clients pay a collective $650,000 ‘security for costs’ to the government and Resorts World Bimini, their judicial review action would be dismissed.
Source: savethebays, May 2, 2014