By Dominica News Online,
The Government of the People’s Republic of China has given its commitment to resume preparation works on the much-talked-about international airport once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Describing the international airport project as a very important one for Dominica, Ambassador His Excellency LU Kun, said while speaking during the commissioning of three newly constructed bridges along the West Coast Highway on Monday, that Chinese technical experts will come after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“After the Covid-19 Pandemic is over, we are saying that technical experts will come to Dominica very soon because this project also Prime Minister Dr. Skerrit is most concerned about it,” he said.
He said also another very important project is the construction of 6 schools destroyed by Hurricane Maria.
“It will begin to build very soon,” the Ambassador said. “Dr. Skerrit himself is very concerned about these projects, especially for the students.”
Another project which he mentioned is the construction of an Agriculture Complex Building in Portsmouth.
In June 2020, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that the international airport promised for Dominica by his government has not been removed from the national priority list.
He said COVID-19 has delayed the project.
Skerrit said his government is looking forward to building the international airport since it is a way of sustaining the investment made in tourism.
He explained that when COVID-19 hit China, there was a technical group prepared to visit Dominica to conduct the final geotechnical studies, however, at that time, China was grappling with Covid-19 and there were risks associated with people travelling from China, so the visit had to be suspended.
The idea of building an international airport for Dominica has its genesis in the administration of E.O. Leblanc, Dominica’s first premier, in the 1970s.
According to Dr. Lennox Honychurch, Le Blanc got the Canadian government “to finance a study for a proposed jet airport aligned across the centre of the island from Warner to the back of Castle Bruce.” However, the findings declared that there was too much cloud cover and high rainfall and the project was abandoned.
In 1989, the Dominica Freedom Party had a plan drawn for an international airport with alignment from Woodfordhill Bay to Bottom Wesley near Sophia Bay.
In 1998, the United Workers Party (UWP) also had a plan drawn for an airport with alignment further inland from behind Woodford Hill village near the Woodford Hill Agricultural Station to end behind Wesley at the back of the former St. Andrews High School.
The Dominica Labour Party, during its 20 years in office, has, on several occasions, dating back to 2013, spoken of plans to build an international airport for Dominica.
In January this year, Prime Minister Skerrit indicated that the government was making progress on the airport which is expected to be constructed from Eden back to the Woodfordhill area and was about to disburse payments to some of the landowners who had concluded negotiations for the construction of the facility.
He said also that a team of Chinese people would be arriving in Dominica in February to begin preparatory works for the construction of the airport.
This plan was thwarted by COVID-19 but according to the Chinese Ambassador, his people will come when the pandemic is over.
Main photo: Chinese Ambassador, LU Kun. Photo credit: Cecil Clarke