One year after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has said the island has made significant progress in recovering.
In an interview with state-owned DBS Radio, Skerrit said the island’s recovery is on course.
“I think, all things considered, we have made considerable progress,” he stated. “We have been able to get back all our schools functional, we have been able to get electricity and water back to every community in the country, we have been able to help thousands of citizens have their homes recovered and repaired. We have signed contracts for several hundreds of housing units, some of them have been constructed or are under construction.”
He stated that consideration has to be taken that drawings for the units had to be done, private lands had to be acquired and in some surveys had to be made.
“We were able to all of those things in a quick period of time to get work started and many parts of the country we have been able to build homes for citizens and there are many homes under construction,” he stated.
The Prime Minister said the country’s agricultural sector is back in full gear.
“We are exporting agricultural produce to our various markets,” he said. “Business activity in Dominica is largely back to normal, so one can say there has been tremendous progress and we have been able to mobilize the international and regional community to our assistance and there are commitments to significant sums of funds to assist in building the world’s first climate resilient nation.”
Skerrit said a number of projects in the tourism sector are underway.
“All of the hotels continue with their reconstruction efforts,” he stated. “Fort Young is not only doing improvements, but it is also expanding. Jungle Bay is moving full steam, I expect it to open early next year, the first 60 rooms. The Marriot is on stream, construction is moving apace. In Portsmouth, the Kempinski is moving apace and is set to be open next year.”
However, the Prime Minister said a number of challenges lie ahead.
“You will always have challenges, far more after a category 5 hurricane that impacted every facet of our society,” he stated.
He said even independent observers have recognized efforts made after the hurricane.
“And one has to appreciate too, all of what we have been able to do thus far, not all of it but a lot of it, I daresay most of what we have been able to do thus far has been done utilizing our own resources,” the Prime Minister said. “We made progress but I am a person, the more we’ve done, the more I would like to see done. That’s my approach to anything I do, including the running of the country.”
He noted all Dominicans have to be thankful to God for where the country is today.
“Do I see the glass full or half empty? I see the glass half full and it is a matter for us now to keep pouring into this glass to the point where we get to the brim and we would have addressed significantly all issues confronting our country,” Skerrit remarked.
Thirty-one people have been confirmed dead and 34 missing in the wake of the hurricane.
According to the World Bank, total damages and losses were estimated at US$1.37 billion or 226 percent of GDP. The greatest damages were in housing and transport, with more than 4,500 houses destroyed and 20,000 partially damaged, and many roads and bridges affected and covered by trees and flooded debris. The agriculture sector had the largest losses, with 80 to 100 percent of crops destroyed.