Parliamentary Representative for the Wesley Constituency, Fidel Grant is dismissing claims that the farmers in the Joe Burton area in Wesley have been unceremoniously displaced to facilitate the construction of an International Airport.
The Minister made the announcement on Wednesday.
His statement followed complaints made by Einstein Drigo, a farmer of Wesley, who said during the Hot Seat Programme on Q-95 Radio earlier this week, that a portion of land he used for growing plantains was bulldozed to facilitate the construction of the International Airport.
In that segment Drigo did admit that he received a letter from government about a year ago to vacate the premises but that he had not received any recent notification.
Drigo explained that when he came from church on Sunday he met, “everything flat [the plantation].”
“They didn’t even give me a chance to make someone value there for me and they didn’t even tell me they were going to do that,” he complained. “I had about 2000 bunches of plantains there.”
Drigo said some of the plantains were ready to be harvested.
He said in terms of compensation, no one has reached out to him.
However, according to Grant the reports aired on the radio are false.
“In January 2020 the government accelerated its plans to construct the International Airport based on numerous studies and technical advice, the Wesley site was deemed the most viable site on the island,” Grant explained. “As a result of this, a few residents are to be relocated.”
He said following consultation, most of these residents identified the Joe Burton and Mambrey area in Wesley as the preferred options for relocation.
“In the first quarter of 2020 notice was served to vacate the lands in preparation for the construction of homes,” Grant revealed. “This would allow for adequate time to harvest crops already cultivated and to relocate to an alternate location.”
He said further that as the government now moves forward with plans for construction farmers interested in continuing their farming practices have been offered the option to regularize the arrangements with a view to relocate and establish new holdings.
Grant indicated that some of these farmers in the Joe Burton area have accepted the offer and await the allocation of new plots to continue farming.
He said the Government of Dominica reiterates its commitment to the development of the agricultural sector and the empowerment of citizens to contribute to national food security.
“The government reassures the public that it will prioritize the interest and well-being of every Dominican citizen as it embarks on the construction of an International Airport,” Grant stated. “We invite every Dominican to join in the collective effort to advance nation building.”