Parliamentary Representative of the Portsmouth Constituency, Ian Douglas, has described the last few days as “very rough” following the departure of Ross University School of Medicine after 40 years of operation in Dominica.
The minister was speaking during a live interview on the State-owned DBS Radio on Tuesday morning.
“After 40 years of partnership with Ross University, the greatest contributor to our local economy and significant contributor to the national economy, the last few days have been in fact very rough,” he remarked. “But we are strong people and we will survive, we will go through this period and come out of it stronger…”
Douglas said he has been meeting with a few constituents one-on-one, some of those who are directly involved in provision of services such as accommodations and other services to Ross University, to discuss a way forward.
“We have been dialoguing on ways we can move forward in the absence of Ross University,” he said. “Of course you know we have three hotels being built and nearing completion in Portsmouth…” He named the Moroccan Hotel, Kempinski and a “major housing residential development project…” as areas in which Ross University employees can be absorbed and we can move on,” Douglas stated.
Douglas is of the view that Ross University cannot be immediately replaced or substituted in the short-term or medium to long-term and there is tremendous potential in picking up from what was left over by its departure.
“Just when Ross University, when they announced their departure last week, we welcomed a new Ferry from Pointe-a-Pitre to Portsmouth and we have been speaking to the captain and the principals of the Ferry on the weekend, looking at ways we can use the Ferry Service to generate more economic activities, night life in the Portsmouth area…,” he explained.
The Portsmouth parliamentary representative reiterated Prime Minister Skerrit’s optimism about attracting economic opportunities in Portsmouth, the north and at the national level, to generate the same level of economic activity as Ross.
Douglas insists, in light of significant criticism to the contrary, that the government did all it could to try to keep Ross University in Dominica and that the weather system had a major part to play in the company’s decision to leave..
“First you had Tropical Storm Erika and on the heels of Erika, on our recovery path of Erika, we had Hurricane Maria which created tremendous difficulties for the University and for their students as far as logistics were concerned, [in] getting the students out,” he noted.
Douglas said he suspects that one of the main reasons for Ross’s departure and relocation to Barbados is that Barbados, although it’s a Caribbean country, will be less affected by the frequent weather systems that Dominica is facing.
“That is behind us now that they have announced their departure, we have to look to the future, we have to sit down and brainstorm as to how we are going to continue with the robust economic activity that was generated by the presence of Ross in Dominica,” he stated.