Charles has revealed a plan for addressing the vagrant problem in Roseau

Charles has revealed a plan for addressing the vagrant problem in Roseau. File photo

In order to address the vexing problem of vagrants in Roseau, the government has approved a sum of money for a program that will include providing a day care center them.

Speaking at the 12th inauguration of the Roseau City Council on Wednesday, Youth Affairs Minister, Justina Charles, said the government has approved $102,500 to address the vagrancy situation in the capital city in the initial stages. She represented Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, at the function.

“And this program includes providing a day care center, or if you want to call it a day hospital, for vagrants around Roseau,” she stated.

She said the program is going to be voluntary and those who accept and are willing to be part of it will be assessed. 

“And we are hoping that during the time that they will be there in that program that there will be a total, thorough assessment of the individuals to look at their physical, social and psychological wellbeing and a management plan will be developed in order to meet their specific identified needs,” Charles revealed.

She said the facility will provide a variety of activities to improve both occupational and vocational skills of those in the program.

“Very often we look at the vagrants but some of them are very skilled and talented and all we need to do is to explore it, if they find the right environment,” Charles remarked. “And so there will be a social worker, there will be a counselor attached to the program who will assist in identifying some of those areas.”

The issue of vagrants in Roseau has been a long standing one in Dominica.

They are said to be a nuisance to tourists who come to the island and locals alike.

In November 2013, then Tourism Minister, Ian Douglas, admitted that he was unsure how the matter is going to be resolved.

He threw the problem at the feet of the Ministry of Health, which he said is ultimately responsible for dealing with it.

In May 2015, Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux said the matter has been handed to the Ministry of Health and a cabinet paper has been finalized.

“This issue of the vagrancy has been going back and forth for the longest while and finally it was handed to the capable Ministry of Health,” he said back then. He also pointed out that the accommodations for vagrants will be handled by the non-profit organization, Wisdom To Know (WTK), with a small cost attached.

In July 2015, Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge said government has put a plan in place to address the problem and it includes day and night care facility. He also said as part of the plan, the Psychology Unit will pick up high risk persons every day and take them to what he described as an “occupational health centre.”

In 2014, Director of Tourism, Colin Piper, described the matter as having a “negative impediment” on the tourism industry.