Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit believes that the spread of the coronavirus will likely cause the delay of some China-funded projects in Dominica.
Speaking at a meeting of CARICOM heads in Barbados on Sunday he mentioned one of the projects being the construction of the much-talked-about International Airport.
“We were supposed to receive a technical delegation from the government of China in the month of February,” he said. “We had to put this on hold obviously and I am supposed to go to China in the next couple of months on an official visit, and of course this is on hold.”
He continued, “Certainly it’s going to have an impact on some of the projects, because there are some technical work that is required to be done physically by the Chinese experts and we have to make a determination on these things.”
According to him a number of airlines stopped flying into China.
Skerrit said further that the first interest is to ensure that if this virus can be contained there can be a reduction in the number of people affected, “and then there can be some normalcy.”
“Our concern is about the health and wellness of our global heads,” he indicated.
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 the 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 findings.
In May 2019, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said that the government hopes to access technical assistance from the World Bank in its plans to construct an international airport in Dominica. He said at the time the World Bank can provide access to that capacity and that his government was looking forward to engage this project in the very short term.
In January 2020 he said the government will disburse payments to some of the landowners who have concluded negotiations for the construction of the International Airport.
He said his government is making progress on the airport which is expected to be constructed from Eden back to the Woodfordhill area.
Skerrit said the airport is a national priority for Dominica and believes that its presence will complement the country’s thrust in tourism and agriculture.