September 13, 2012
Fading lighthouse Historic landmark, surrounding neglected communities
Andre Williams, STAR Writer
The present condition of the historical landmark, the Morant Point Lighthouse, Holland Bay, St Thomas, is a true reflection of the neglect now facing the surrounding community of Duckenfield.
The fact that the monument which was built in 1841 is situated within seven miles of Duckenfield, one would easily conclude that the community would benefit from the attraction.
However, that is far from the truth and Derrick Weston, a resident, told THE STAR that there would have been benefits had it not been for the empty promises from politicians relating to developing the 100-foot tall, 18-foot wide lighthouse.
When asked about the main source of livelihood, Weston expressed, "Well, a farming enuh but that boils down to just hand to mouth ... If more was done to the lighthouse then more people would get involve and earn by doing work."
He said, "We have the best beach ... pretty and comfortable white sand ... people come down there to have dem private wedding and so forth ...We the community people use the beach from time to time but not very often."
Weston continued, "If you look on it (the lighthouse) now it want paint ... The last person to paint it is a white lady from England name Caroline Libron ... about 10 years now ... She has been active in Duckenfield helping us with even schools in the community."
THE STAR was told that for years promises have been made by numerous political representatives to build a massive hotel on the over 100 acres of land surrounding the lighthouse.
Alhol Owen, also from the parish, has been the caretaker for the lighthouse for 18 years. He pointed out that the tower which marks the most easterly point in Jamaica remains relevant as the signal used by fishermen, ships and planes to know their geographic location.
He registered similar sentiments to Weston, claiming that a hotel was promised but seemed to have been shelved.
To get to the historical site, one has to endure a rough 20-minute drive through seemingly unending fields of sugar cane.
THE STAR was told that the original road from Golden Grove to the lighthouse has been impassible since Hurricane Gilbert.
A collaborative effort between the Golden Grove Sugar Factory and NEPA has been in place, through which a makeshift roadway is being used to reach the island's most eastern point.
Owen expressed, "The beach is so wonderful it could take development... we need investors to really see the potential."
Weston also revealed, "People from all Ochi come down here and say we don't know what we have out here... More can be done to get the community involved."
THE STAR was informed that approximately 200 visitors have been to the lighthouse since the start of the year and have written their remarks in a log book on location.
Owen disclosed, "The road is no good and there are no proper signs but people still find dem way and visit."
Among the comments written about the lighthouse were, "its a great view", "awesome", "very nice", "amazing" and "had a blast".
According to Weston people from the community are also visiting the lighthouse less because of the bad road, lack of sanitary convenience and running water.
In the meantime, he said, many people see the potential and have began to exploit the resources.
He told THE STAR, "People from far come in the night and dig up the white sands... truck loads after truck load until the police got involve and put a stop to it."
A walk on the beach led THE STAR to a small hut occupied by Marga, one resident who is also waiting patiently for development of the area.
He was glad to see us on his verandah and warned, "Be careful out here enuh... watch out for the crocodile".
Marga expressed his disgust with the empty promises to develop the area. "A whole heap a talk and talk gwan but the place could be better off if dem pay greater attention to we the poor who live out the land and know it inside out... The place is the best is just dem fi realise."
Efforts to speak with the Member of Parliament for Eastern St Thomas, Dr Fenton Ferguson proved futile as calls to his cell phones went unanswered.