The 2015/2016 cruise ship season is now opened and Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, is again speaking of the longstanding issue of vagrancy in Dominica, especially in the city of Roseau.
He said the matter should not be handled by the government only, however, everyone should play their part.
“All of the supposed vagrants that you see on the streets they all have family; they belong to someone so we ourselves have to help. It cannot be done by the government only, so all of us have to do our part,” he said.
He noted that there are some regulations put in place by the Ministry of Health on the matter but, “I am not sure if it is fully in place…”
He stated that the authorities will be working with the police so that the issue “is actually reduced.”
Tonge also noted that the issues of vagrancy, littering and crime should not be addressed just for tourists but also “for us.”
“You don’t want somebody harassing you for money, you don’t want somebody harassing you for stuff. You don’t want to be walking down the road and see a smelly gutter,” he stressed. “I mean if you take your time nowadays and you walk around Roseau slowly, it is not what it supposed to be.”
He added, “There are certain cultural things that we have. For example we keep our gutters clean, but then kenip season comes along…I mean it is a cultural thing so some of us accept it, but just imagine someone else who knows nothing about it and all of a sudden they see all the kenip skins and all the seeds in the gutter…we have to change.”
In July 2015, Tonge had said that Government has put a plan in place to address the vagrancy issue with a day and night care facility.
He mentioned also that as part of the plan, the Psychology Unit will pick up high risk persons every day and take them to what he described as an “occupational health centre.”
In November 2013, then Tourism Minister, Ian Douglas, admitted that he was unsure how the vagrancy is going to be resolved.
He threw it at the feet of the Ministry of Health, which he said is ultimately responsible for dealing with it.
Earlier this year Health Minister, Kenneth Darroux said the matter would be taken to cabinet for consideration since it is having a negative impact on, “our visitors especially those from the cruise ships.”
Last year Director of Tourism, Colin Piper, described the matter as having a “negative impediment” on the tourism industry.