Former Prime Minister of Dominica, Edison James, has said that Wesley farmer, Einstein Drigo, should approach the government for compensation after the authorities ordered the bulldozing of his field of plantain recently.
James who was speaking during a live interview on Q-95 Radio, said he understands that the value of the crops destroyed amounts to about $66,000.
He said the government did not handle that situation the right way.
Drigo did admit that he received a letter from the government about a year ago asking him to vacate the land but that he had not received any recent notification.
However, he said about two weeks ago, when he confronted the people who had come to bulldoze his farm, they advised that he should speak with Housing minister Reginald Austrie or Wesley MP, Fidel Grant.
Drigo went on to say that when he came from church the next day, 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 and no one has reached out to him regarding compensation.
But James is of the view that aside from humanitarian considerations, Drigo is entitled to compensation based on his [James’] interpretation of the relevant law.
“The farmer should be wise to consider approaching the government for compensation,” James remarked. “It was required that the gentleman given notice, I understand from what you read, notice was given.”
He continued, “I do not know the full content of the notice, how it was drafted, but there are provisions in the same law.”
James referred to the Small Tenement Act Chapter 54:71. This Act makes provision for duties and proceedings in relation with the ending of a tenancy of a small tenement as defined in this Act.
He believes that the farmer should have been given the opportunity to harvest his crop.
“The crop was planted at the time when the notice was given and according to the law it was required that he was allowed to reap the plantains before they were bulldozed,” James remarked. “That is the law.”
James further stated that based on the law and even outside of the law on humanitarian grounds at least that farmers should be allowed to harvest the crops,” he stated.
Meantime, James, who is the former MP for the Marigot Constituency, has said that he sees no reason why the location that was identified by the United Workers Party government in 1998 in the same area for the construction of an international airport, is not being used by the DLP administration and is urging the government to make any studies which they have done, available to the public.
“I heard Mr. Grant say that in the piece that you played, that after several studies, they decided that the Wesley site was the appropriate site…Give the people the benefit of seeing these studies which directed…you dictated the site we’ve settled on is the site, the appropriate, the only site. Make the document available,” James said.