Updated: January 19, 2020

On January 15, 2020, Minister of Housing and Urban Development in Dominica, Reginald Austrie (aka Tete Calbass) announced  development of more free housing in Roseau, Dominica. In that same week, Junior Minister Melissa Poupon Skerrit was cobbling words together about resilience, infrastructure, green space and congestion. No one knows if she understood what she was given to read but, at least, she parroted the words!  what a Pity? Nevertheless...... back to babbling Reggie and his rambling, incoherent nonsense. Ostensibly, the first phase of the housing scheme is to be constructed on the vulnerable Roseau River banks.  He also announced other housing projects to be undertaken in Roseau without being specific. Does this administration feel this is a priority for Roseau? Even if one wishes to build houses for citizens they do not have to be located in the city of  Roseau. As a country that has declared its intention of becoming the first climate resilient country in the world (??),  you would think that mitigating disaster would be paramount.  Adding houses to an already crowded, disorganized and dysfunctional city which lies in a riverbed prone to flooding, is not only silly, but courting disaster.  There are too many automobiles in this cluttered city producing excess emission, poor air quality and unhealthy living conditions. In addition, Roseau is plagued by poor or no drainage, a sewage system that needs to be updated and lack of green space. 

Why does this Mis-Administration always seem to put the cart before the horse? Would it not be better to improve the  infrastructure, the sewer and water system before embarking on ill-conceived housing scheme solely aimed at maintaining political power by preying on vulnerable citizens?  The city of Roseau already has a serious problem with garbage disposal; before thought is given to building houses, a sensible Administration would deal with the garbage problem, enhance the environment and assist people who have homes to make them more secure.  What is the point of building new houses and the people who are presently living in Roseau their homes are still vulnerable. Why would an Administration undertake such an expensive venture in Roseau? A city that is already dysfunctional and an eyesore!.  Spending millions of scarce funds to build dwelling units that are vulnerable and prone to transition into slums is simply asinine.   Is this Administration so focused on maintaining political power that they seem incapable of making plans that will be beneficial to the people of Dominica? What is the rationale for such a foolhardy plan if not to win votes and maintain political power? This plan will have no sustainable benefits to those who receive the freebee.

Will this Administration ever learn that  citizens of the country matter and deserve better?  In addition, why would any Administration want to expose more people to an area which experts have emphasized is prone to future volcanic activities? Did this administration even heed the words of  volcanologist, Dr. Patricia Joseph, who spoke at workshop during Earth Science week in Dominica in  October 2013. She emphasized that the next volcanic eruption will most likely occur in the south of the island.  She indicated that all Dominica's volcanoes except Diablotin and Mont O-Diable are located within 10 km of Roseau. She continued to say that having infrastructure distributed throughout the island would come in handy if something happens in Roseau. This Administration needs to look at Dominica's volcanic map and make a serious effort to develop the less vulnerable areas in Dominica instead of continuing this retarded behavior of thinking that Dominica is Roseau. Planning for a disaster after it happens is too late.

Seriously, are the plans outlined an example of  the climate resilient plans for Roseau?  If they are, then there appears to be much missing. Where is CREAD? Has anyone seen it? These housing projects should be comprehensive to include serious consideration of making the entire environment climate resilient. For instance

1. The Administration has failed to outline a climate resilient plan for waste management for the City of Roseau.  This is important because there is a concentration  of businesses in the city which generate a ton of garbage and waste water. By adding additional housing, this will increase the strain on an archaic system.  There is a need for a dedicated recycling and garbage disposal for the city. This would be the perfect time to institute such a plan.  The Minister did not have such a plan.

2. Where are the plans for ensuring that the First Responders such as the Fire Dept, Ambulance Services are up to speed in dealing with disasters. The Roseau Fire Station need to be a First class Station for Command during an emergency with all the bells and whistles. Probably, building a new fire station in one of the proposed housing areas would be more practical than revamping the old one. which had suffered during Maria. Where are the resilient plans? 

3. Where are the plans for the public schools in Roseau Central. Are they going to be revamped with solar power or something of the sought. Will they be reconstructed, Will the National Hospital be able to function during a Disaster? The ragtag kamikaze units being fabricated by the People Republic of China is not a hospital. It is a collection of building that will be rendered dysfunctional in a disaster.  There is no flow, rhythm to the manner in which the units are being designed to ensure adequate accommodation of mass casualties in a disaster.

Any Administration 'worth its salt'  would work to establish the enabling environment to create jobs outside of Roseau that would make it more attractive for people to want to live those area.  Giving free housing will not cut it. In fact, you are guaranteeing the creation of slums as there are no plans for responsible ownership, maintenance and upkeep of these facilities.

It is time to de-clutter Roseau. It is already a mess and building free housing will not improve the city.  It is time to move some government offices out of Roseau for heavens sake.  There are many safe areas in Dominica where land can be acquired to build homes that be distributed based on need and ability to contribute something, anything to upkeep and maintenance. Indeed, there are several villages that, if properly developed, can transform Dominica. These include portions of the Kalinago Territory, Laplaine, Marigot, Wesley and the second town Portsmouth. Large portions of these regions are away from the coast, not prone to flooding and have some infrastructure in place that need to be modernized.   Why the need to pack more people into an already crowded city?  The available spaces should be used to build Smart infrastructure with some green space. Some living accommodation could be included but not to this density. For instance, there a need for a Technology center in Roseau.  Roseau  could remain the administrative capital, while multiple areas of the island are developed into people-friendly, climate resilient mini-metropolis. Time for Dominicans to move away from the fixation on a City that cannot be fixed.

So what is the Plan?  Is it to develop a resilient city for the future or just concentrate on doing things that will consolidate political power and increase chances at the polls? Does it include de-cluttering Roseau of abandoned building and unsafe tenements, constructing better drainage, improved sewage and waste management? The answer is obviously no! It seems to be a fly-by-night, shoot-from-the-hip, scatter-brain scheme devised by shallow-minded amateurs to ensure their political survival rather than honestly serve the Dominican people.  But again why should Dominicans be surprised?