Skerrit said government is committed to building the airport

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said that the site for the construction of the much-talked-about International Airport in Dominica  will be “from Eden back to the Woodfordhill area.”

Skerrit made the disclosure during a special Year-in-Review programme on Tuesday evening which was brought live via various media.

He said it will cost in the region  of $50 to $60 million to purchase the land for the airport.

“We will build this International Airport for Dominica and we are committed to this,” he said. “We have commitment from some friends; we have some of our own monies, and we have enough money to pay for the land which values between $50 to $60 million from Eden back to the Woodfordhill area.”

According to Skerrit, his government has written to a number of the land/property owners in the area who have “all agreed, so far, to sell their lands.”

“In some instances we will have exchanges because some people have asked to exchange their lands for other lands that we have and I am certainly taken by the willingness of the land owners to facilitate this process, recognizing the importance of it to the country,” he stated.

He continued, “I have said to my friends in Woodfordhill and Wesley that if you are agreeing to sell your land to us at an agreed price today within 48 hours we shall provide you with a cheque.”

He revealed that his government already has the monies set aside.

Skerrit went on to say that the government is currently conducting more detail soil testing and doing geotechnical studies, “so we have the firm from the United States who is conducting those more indepth geotechnical and soil testing” in order to know precisely what soil type is there and what type of engineering will be employed for the design of this area.

He said the government has done all the feasibility studies, all the wind tests.

“We have had the alignment approved so we know the alignment of the runway,” he noted. “We have an initial estimate for the cost of the runway; we have conceptual drawings from the firm…”

This latest commitment to construct an international airport follows a number of public pronouncements made by this administration regarding the construction of an international airport.

In 2013, the prime minister announced that he had signed a US$300-million deal with Chinese company ASCG with “reconstruction of an international airport” in Compton Point near Calibishie, among projects to be undertaken under the agreement.

The topic resurfaced at a Dominica Labour Party Rally on May 5, 2014 when Skerrit said that his government was actively pursuing several projects, including the construction of an international airport through the BOOT – Build, Own, Operate and Transfer – option, with a team of private developers from China.

Following a trip to China that same month, the prime minister promised to make public, a document which showed “good progress” on the project but that never materialized.

In March 2017, Skerrit told a group of students from the North East Comprehensive School that the airport would be built in the north-eastern part of the island. He said an American firm was engaged to do all of the studies in relation to the project and would be doing a presentation to the cabinet on the 21st of April, 2017 on its finding.

With this latest pronouncement, Prime Minister Skerrit has reiterated his government’s commitment to build an international airport. Now, the country waits to see if the decades-old promises of an international airport from the current and previous administrations, will eventually bear fruit.