Barkers opening only temporary

The Caymanian Easter camping tradition was allowed to continue at Barkers in West Bay over the long holiday weekend.

But police are advising campers to clear out by Wednesday to make sure they can remove their vehicles before night time closures of the park resume.

The Barkers area, undeveloped bush land bisected by dyke roads, has been closed to vehicle traffic since early March when the Royal Cayman Islands Police imposed what amounts to a night time curfew there between the hours of 6.30pm and 6am.

However, for the long weekend, the park area was opened starting at 6am Thursday and will remain open until 6.30pm tomorrow. For those days only, access will not be restricted at night and visitors can come and go as they please.

“We do realise (camping in Barkers) is a Caymanian tradition,” RCIPS Chief Inspector Angelique Howell said.

The entrance will be blocked to vehicular traffic again tomorrow evening.

Chief Inspector Howell said West Bay police increased patrols in the area over the long weekend.

“No littering will be tolerated back there,” she said. “No loud music or loud parties will be allowed.”

She said police also asked Barkers campers to keep an eye out for each other and stay in groups at all times.

The issue of Barkers safety became an island-wide concern following the 10 October abduction and death of Cable and Wireless Communications Manager Estella Scott-Roberts. Mrs. Scott-Roberts’ remains were found the next day in a burned out vehicle that was abandoned in Barkers.

RCIPS moved to close the park entrance after another abducted woman was taken into the Barkers area by her kidnaper. That 29-year-old managed to escape without being physically injured.

No arrests were made in the most recent abduction.

Three days after the second abduction occurred, the RCIPS began enforcing a nighttime curfew in the Barkers area of West Bay.

“This decision forms part of a crime prevention strategy in the area and has the full support of the landowners,” read a statement issued by the RCIPS.

‘It’s a temporary crime prevention strategy that we are employing until other measures…can be put in place,’ Mrs. Howell said of the initial closure, adding that the decision to close the area at night will be ‘regularly reviewed.’

Police have previously expressed concern about people using Barkers at night for outdoor ‘sessions,’ parties where alcohol and drugs are sometimes consumed. Officers hope the chain will prevent at least drivers from entering the area.

Members of the citizens group the West Bay Action Committee planned to write to some of the private land owners in the Barkers area, asking them to agree to make the nighttime road block permanent.

Police said land owners had responded ‘quickly and positively’ to the closure, but no final decisions have been made.

West Bay residents also indicated blocking the road into Barkers at night might cut down on some of the illegal dumping that occurs there.