A popular magical remedy purported to cure Dominica’s many woes is to construct an international airport. People who would benefit from such an airport are the large Dominica diaspora and a few more tourists who could then fly in and out non-stop from America and Europe – most of them non-voters by the way. But, with elections looming,
once again an international airport has become a key election promise of both main parties. It’s an enchanting promise.
Never mind the chronic urgent need for real hospitals, new bridges, the pitifully low minimum wage, the ruination of agriculture, and on and on the sad list goes. Never mind the severely damaged forest ecosystem, resulting in a future of more and more landslides and catastrophic Layou-style flooding.
The promise of a cosmopolitan future for Dominica is false and misguided. The world is changing. Due to mounting scarcities of resources, world economies will become, are now becoming, much more local. This movement applies even more so to island economies. Now is the time to reinvest in the local economy – to invest in creating a
skilled and motivated workforce, rather than succumbing to jealousy and constructing this costly infrastructure in imitation of other islands. If we wish to be the envy of the Caribbean, we only have to develop our people and our local economy.
Ignoring this unexciting longer-term scenario, the DLP is once again dangling the international airport carrot in front of us. And it seems to mesmerize a majority of people.
Survey crews are on the ground in the Woodfordhill-Wesley area carving out the current government’s airport plan. Incredibly the DLP airport plan happens to occupy a completely different piece of ground than the previous UWP airport plan….“Huh?! What?!”, one might exclaim. “Why?” would be a better question.
Yes, as silly and wasteful as it sounds, it’s true. The UWP airport ground was depopulated and expropriated some 20 years ago. Now, like a recurrent bad dream, the depopulation and expropriation process is about to begin for the current DLP airport model. The two combined will amount to well over 1,000 acres of Dominica land
emptied by the government. Almost all of it is prime agricultural land.
So, let’s imagine, just as it happened some 20 years ago, that all of this new land is expropriated by the government and then, no airport is built. We cannot ignore this possibility – there is the parallel precedent. Perhaps this government has no intention to build an airport. After all, their intent is to win an election, not to follow through with electioneering promises.
In this 2019 airport case, the government would end up with another 500+ acres, resulting in another portion of prime Dominica land being depopulated. To what end? Why does this government seemingly want to depopulate and take over historically productive agricultural land?
The international airport plan is being presented to the voting public as a beneficial and essential project. More essential and beneficial than hospitals, bridges, a respectable minimum wage, a resurgence of agriculture … a return to national self-respect and some degree of economic autonomy?????
On top of that it involves the coercive depopulation of agricultural areas and villages. What’s the end game here? Who will benefit from the newly emptied lands?
Let’s get some answers.