In the early 1980s I remember a number of infrastructural projects going on in Dominica. It was simply amazing as the entire island appeared to be going through some type of transition. Subsequent to that, the Canefield to Pond Casse Road became the main road when travelling from west to east. It was also quite refreshing to drive to areas like Rosalie and La Plain as the roads were much improved. Driving from Portsmouth to the Calibishie area was also a wonderful experience with the well paved roads and beautiful natural environment. A small airport was opened in Canefield and from 5.00am to 7.00pm it seemed as though Canefield was the main centre of activity in Dominica.
The Dame Eugenia Boulevard and the southern road to Souffriere and Scottshead cannot be forgotten. Schools were renovated and many health centers were built. Added to that was the “banana boom” where farmers were among the most successful business persons, car dealers were registering record sales and a period of construction for residential and business began. Our banks were extremely happy!
Many changes, developments and processes have been realized since then. Telecommunication services became liberalized and international companies took advantage of the break from the monopoly. Little improvements were made regarding infrastructure. More hotels and eco-lodges were constructed. Tourism related businesses like tour operators, adventure parks and restaurants were slowly coming into the picture. Small to medium sized factories evolved and the manufacturing sector appeared to be making some progress. Off shore banks and businesses began the order of the day in Roseau. Certainly more commercial activity was evident each year. The number of Dominicans going off to university increased. During that time an increase in crime and drug related incidents were noted.
Focus on tourism and its related services have been the topic of discussion in recent years. This may be the reason for major infrastructural projects which are still ongoing. Work was done on the various sea ports and jetties to accommodate cruise ships and commercial vessels. A major over-haul began at the Melville Hall Airport while the Canefield airport succumbed to private flights which are miniscule. The Roseau Valley, St. Aroment, Goodwill, Pond Casse to airport, Canefield to Pond Casse and the much talked about Roseau to Portsmouth roads will form the basis for future investment. New bridges are seen and land is being acquired for possibly large incoming projects.
A national trail designed throughout the island will be a landmark for nature tourists. Divers are still committed to the destination. Cruise passengers increased to the island but it has been challenging to keep figures up for stay-over visitors. The service center made some progress with another off-shore university and new call center. Generally, most off-shore banks and companies have been closed and manufacturing has been at an all time low. Farmers have not yet decided which crop can replace bananas. Agro processing whilst at its infancy has the potential to become a major industry. Banks are competing with interest rates and the migration rate increases. Geothermal potential is being explored and this may be the “big break” that Dominica has been searching for all along. To a large extent, water resources are still being underutilized. It is my hope that the recently drafted investment promotion strategy, which identifies key sectors in which we have a comparative advantage, will guide the island to capturing its dream.
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