Chief Executive Officer of the Dominica Air and Seaport Authority (DASPA), Benoit Bardouille has said systems are being put in place to prevent disaster at the Douglas Charles Airport, similar to what occurred during the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in August 2015.
Bardouille made that statement while speaking as a guest on “DASPA in Touch” programme earlier this week.
During the storm the airport received a severe pounding due to flooding by the Melville Hall River, which caused every piece of equipment at that facility to be destroyed and therefore had to be replaced.
Damages to the airport were in excess of $41 million and on September 2015, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit revealed that the Government would require $39.5-million to have it restored.
“We are hopeful and looking forward towards the end of August we should see the completion of phase one which in terms of the apron…when we talk about the apron is that area where the aircrafts park and persons come off or go on onto the aircrafts,” he explained. “Presently we are using the eastern side of that ramp and you would have seen work being done on the western side of that ramp.”
According to Bardouille the western part should be completed soon.
“We are just at present levelling off so that they can start pretty soon the laying of the asphalt, and once the asphalt is complete then we switch from where we are operating now to the newly laid area” Bardouille revealed. “Where we are working now will be ripped up and work will continue from that end.”
He stated further that a river wall will be constructed to protect the runway.
“The plan in going forward that is being designed is we are going to put a wall across that area so that some level of permanence in terms of just having the soil backfilled and having stones in that area, the engineers have decided to put a wall in that area so that the chances of that area being breached again would be remote and so that is ongoing,” Bardouille indicated.
He went on to say that the designs are being prepared and finalized, “and so since that is done in the interim what has been done in that area is that they have plugged the area and put in enough sufficient material…”
Bardouille added, “They have put in so much into it that they have estimated that probably twice the volume it can stand as a temporary measure.”
He mentioned also that works are ongoing in widening of the channels where possible and also dredging of the river.