CEO of the Dominica Airport and Sea Port Authority (DASPA), Benoit Bardouille, has revealed that work is ongoing at the Douglas Charles Airport that aims to mitigate the impact of a possible flooding similar or greater to that of Tropical Storm Erika.
Bardouille said that the issue of airport floods has been on the table for a while now because of the intricate engineering design with regard to hydrology.
“One of the things I have heard, and in the past, is that we have has some flooding in relations to the overflow of the drains. That has been something we have been talking about for some time because of the engineering design, in terms of the hydrology within the area,” Bardouille stated.
According to him, the government is ensuring that all processes are set in place to avoid future damage.
“The Ministry of Works has a hydrologist working in relation to the river, and we are trying our best to really ensure that the scientific processes can be put in place so that we do not suffer the same fate,” he said.
He also noted that the airport is being designed now and will soon be followed by works to tackle that issue of flooding.
“I think in relation to the airport, you will see that it is being designed now but more works are being done to avoid the flooding in front of the terminal,” Bardouille stated.
He said that “significant progress” has been made thus far, and as of next weekend, one aspect of reconstruction will be completed.
“You will see that we have made significant progress. We have had some delays due to weather, but as of next weekend I can say to you assuredly that we would have finished the taxiway and the apron, and we will be opening that very shortly thereafter so that aircraft can utilize it,” he said.
According to him, there is “definite progress” in construction, and work has already started on roads within close proximity to the airport.
“Work has started on the Wesley/Woodford Hill end connecting to Marigot; that road that was broken during Erika. It is in a progress state now and we are hoping that the contractors are going to do that. We know we are approaching the hurricane season, so a lot of effort is going into that to make sure we can complete certain works before then,” Bradouille remarked.
As stated by him, the type of work being done now is qualitative, and efforts are being made to avoid short cuts and give solid solutions to the issue.
“One of the things we are trying to do is eliminate the shortcuts and those things where if you are going to get the same Erika with the same volume of water, you do not want to have the same thing repeated. That’s why I think a lot of efforts, and thanks to the engineers in the Ministry of Public Works, and the Minister for Public Works, and the Ministry of Finance for making the financing available,” Bardouille remarked.
The airport was severely flooded during the passage of Erika in 2015. It again suffered flooding in March 2016 and March 2017.