No country knows this more than the Commonwealth of Dominica, whose people suffered significant setbacks after Tropical Storm Erika damaged the entire nation’s infrastructure in August 2015. With roads flooded, buildings stripped of roofs, and the local airport inundated, it seemed Dominica would have to fight a difficult uphill battle to find its bearings again.
But the country, known as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, had more resilience and tenacity than the world expected. Supported by foreign direct investment from its Citizenship by Investment Programme – one of the world’s most popular options for economic citizenship – Dominica launched a nation-wide rebuilding programme, with the aim of creating a better, stronger nation for future generations.
A prime example of this ambition is the ‘new’ West Bridge, unveiled on 1 May 2017. One of the nation’s principal bridges, it connects Dominica’s capital city across the Roseau River. Construction of the bridge commenced in 2016, and is part of a major redevelopment scheme for the city of Roseau, consisting of a second phase in which three roads will also be rehabilitated.
The unveiling ceremony, which saw thousands of attendees, was led by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who praised the construction and those involved in it. “This magnificent project, completed on budget and within the allotted time, has taken road construction and engineering in Dominica to the next level,” said the Prime Minister.
Dr Skerrit noted that the bridge is also a point of pride for residents of the island, as “not a single piece of equipment that could have been sourced locally, was brought in for this project” and “not a truck or excavator, which could have been rented locally, was brought in to work on this site.” Furthermore, he observed that “less than ten non-Dominicans worked on this project,” making it a ‘home’ project.
Aside from creating skills-building jobs for citizens, the project also appeals to more creative Dominicans, as it is their suggestions that will be taken into consideration when, in November 2017, the bridge’s final name will be announced.
In commenting about the project, Senator Miriam Blanchard said that citizens of the northern bank of the river could now sleep peacefully. She also pointed out that more was to be done to improve Roseau, as the bridge was only one part of the ‘Roseau Enhancement Project’ due to improve life and mobility for those living in the bustling capital.
Completion of the new West Bridge came had in hand with the repair of the Emmanuel Christopher Loblack Bridge further east, which had also been damaged.