ROSEAU, Dominica – The Dominica government says over EC$40 million (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) would have been spent in acquiring hundreds of acres of land as well as to compensate hundreds more property owners as the island moves to construct an international airport by 2026.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressing the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce said earth movement on the site of the one billion dollar modern facility, to be situated between the Woodford Hill and Wesley villages on the island’s northeast coast, will begin later this year.
The airport is being funded under the Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI), through which foreign investors are granted citizenship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) island in return for making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of Dominica.
“The international airport is expected to be completed and commissioned by the end of 2026 with a runway length of 2, 850 meters. It will be able to handle wide bodied aircraft like the…Airbus A 350 on direct routes to North America, Europe and key cities in Asia,” Skerrit said.
“We felt if we built an airport between 2022-26, it should be an airport for the future and this is why we have gone the route of this expansive consideration for the airport, “said Skerrit, who is also the Finance Minister.
He said the airport will also include a hangar to provide maintenance services to private aircraft and that the design of the airport will allow for regional passengers to walk through covered walkways to facilitate comfortable access to their flights.
The Finance Minister said that the airport will impact the economy in a positive manner, telling the business grouping “we have already seen a substantial injection of capital in the villages of Wesley and Woodford Hill.
“At the end of the process, in the next few months, over EC$40 million dollars would have been spent to acquire over 500 acres of land and to compensate over 260 property owners under the project,” he said, noting that all relocations are contained within the vicinity of the Wesley village.
Skerrit said that the villagers have benefitted from “highly desirable re-location sites, fertile lands for agriculture and improved views in all directions for housing.
“Agricultural squatters are being regularized in re-located areas which will give them greater security and encourage expansion of their farms thereby facilitating higher production yields. The majority of the residential property owners in the impacted area are being re-located …to a development, which has created a significant uptick in the local construction industry by creating demands for skilled and unskilled labor, equipment and materials.”
Skerrit said that this growth is expected to continue as works on the airport site begins later this year.