But San Pedro is not the only community with environmental controversy. On Tuesday night, villagers of Hopkins in the Stann Creek District gathered to discuss dredging activities that are taking place on the western side of the community. According to them, for months now the works have been going on without any consultation with the residents. What troubles them even more is that the dredging might increase flooding vulnerability. The meeting was spearheaded by the Hopkins Group of Concerned Citizens and member Troy Coleman, who told News Five via phone that the villagers think there is a motive behind the dredging.
Voice of Troy Coleman, Hopkins Group of Concerned Citizens
“That wetland holds tremendous water. That is why we are spared here in Hopkins from devastating flooding. It is in that view that our group and many of the people here consider the project as destructive to the wetland. What makes people more disturbed here is that there was no Environmental Impact Assessment disclosed or any kind of assessment disclosed to the community that actually justifies the feasibility of any kind of project in that area. To make matters worse, the people of Hopkins were not even consulted as residents here. We have people digging in your backyard and not even telling you what is going to happen there.”
“What if they say the dredging is taking place to protect the environment?”
Voice of Troy Coleman
“If this is something that is going to help alleviate flooding in the community, we believe—and we sincerely believe this—that at least the person who came in to do the assessment, the people who people who gave the go-ahead for the project to go on, they should have come into the community to tell us that us as the villager of this community that whatever is going to happen there is going to alleviate flooding in the community in the future, but that was not done, so we believe that that is only an excuse to what is going to happen there. So we do not accept that explanation.”
News Five contacted the Village Council Chairman, Francis Lewis, who did admit that he knows about the dredging. In fact, Lewis says he supports the work, which was commissioned by the Area Representative, Melvin Hulse. But according to Lewis, there is nothing sinister about the work. He says he and the Village Council support the project because it is designed to create better drainage and prevent flooding. But in addition to that, Lewis says the dredging is also geared at creating new house lots in that section of the village. Lewis accused the group of being political and says the Council has called several meetings to inform the residents about the project, but only a few were interested enough to attend.