BVI News

A GRAVE SITUATION – Steel awaiting flesh in gov’t cemetery

Some of the graves in the Cane Garden Bay Cemetery. PHOTO CREDIT: Andre ‘Shadow’ Dawson/BVI NEWS Online

By Horace Mills, BVI News Online Staff

Government has been turning a blind eye to a grave disregard for public safety in one of the most telling of places – a public cemetery.

Several pieces of reinforcing steel, which have no safety caps, have been standing for years on the edge of virtually all ‘incomplete’ graves in the Cane Garden Bay cemetery – seemingly hungry for flesh.

It is not uncommon for crowds – sometimes large crowds – to use the cemetery, apparently oblivious to the danger being posed by the pieces of steel.

BVI News Online has ascertained that the steels are usually left protruding in order to accommodate future construction of vaults atop the existing graves.

The wait for the vaults to be constructed sometimes runs into decades.

“The people who bury their relative already waiting until another relative die. When the other relative die he is buried in the vault that will build on top the grave,” said a Cane Garden Bay resident, who has intimate knowledge of the cemetery. “It’s because they don’t got enough space [in the cemetery],” he added.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development employee who supervises graveyard managers, Joslyn Estridge, acknowledged the need for the pieces of reinforcing steel to have safety caps.

“The burial ground managers or whoever is building the vault; they would usually bend them (the steel) or put something on top to keep it safe. One time, some of the managers were putting bottles over them but it is very unsightly, and they (the bottles) don’t stay. Other than that, we don’t have any policy with regards to that,” she told BVI News Online yesterday, May 3.

Estridge further explained: “Currently, we are revising the Cemetery Act, and we hope to cover a lot of those issues that we are having in terms of unfinished vaults and all of that. We have a lot of issues that we don’t have answers to at the moment.”

Asked what measures will be put in place now to address the issue until the legislative changes are done, Estridge told BVI News Online: “I don’t know what the ministry can do in that regard. As I said, the ministry is currently reviewing the laws and regulations and policies so that we can better manage things like that within the burial grounds.”

There was a more reassuring response from the politician who represents the Cane Garden Bay area, Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull.

“We are aware of the issue and we are working with the Ministry [of Health and Social Development] to rectify what is seemingly an issue. It will be corrected in short order,” he told BVI News Online, adding that he recently raised the matter with the health ministry.

The issue became public knowledge after a blogger using the pseudonym Kingfish commented on a BVI News Online story and photos that the pieces of reinforcing steel are presenting a dangerous situation.

“A very dangerous situation is presented in the photos and steps should be taken to correct it right away. The “re-bars {steel} should have safety caps on them. With so many people around, an accident can occur and one can become impaled on one or more of those unprotected re-bars. Time for the government to act and pass a safety code that requires all re-bars to be caped if they are below a certain height,” Kingfish blogged.

Here are additional photos captured by BVI News Online’s freelance photographer, ANDRE ‘SHADOW’ DAWSON:

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