Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Dominica hints at evacuation law for private sector workers

Published:Wednesday | September 12, 2018 | 3:57 PM
Dominica's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit speaking at a news conference on September 12, 2018 - CMC photo

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – The Dominica government Wednesday hinted at the possibility of enacting legislation before year-end that would give authorities the right to compel the private sector to send home workers in the event of an approaching storm or other natural disasters.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who cancelled a trip to India to return to the island to be part of the team preparing for the passage of tropical storm Isaac that was once a hurricane, also announced that schools and the public sector workers would remain home on Thursday.

“There will be no work for public officers and again we would like to call for the private sector to follow in that same manner (and) to have their employees stay home.

“I understand that there are essential services and those in the essential services will be at work …but the rest of us in the public service are asked to stay home and to ensure that we can secure ourselves, secure our families and our properties.

“We would like the private sector to do the same and this is why going forward we have to implement legislation that would authorise the NEPO (National Emergency Planning Organisation), that when a decision is taken with regards to work, it would apply to every employee in the country and these are the things we intend to do in terms of disaster management going forward,” Skerrit said, adding that he hopes to have the legislation debated in the Parliament by December. 

Dominica is still recovering from the battering it took last September when Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm slammed into the island, killing more than 30 people and leaving a trail of destruction estimated at millions of dollars.

Skerrit said that while the latest weather bulletin has indicated that Isaac is now a tropical storm, he was reminding citizens that in 2015, tropical storm Erika killed at least 20 people, caused floods and mudslides that have set the country back 20 years.

Erika dumped 15 inches of rain on the mountainous island and Skerrit said it also forced the relocation of an entire village.

He told reporters that the police would issue a statement regarding the security arrangements to be undertaken during the passage of the storm as he appealed for citizens to ensure that they are adequately prepared for Isaac.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre said that tropical storm Isaac was “rapidly moving westward’ and that it was now 350 miles east of the French island of Martinique.

A tropical storm warning remains in effect for Martinique, Dominica, and Guadeloupe, while a tropical storm watch had gone into effect for Antigua, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Martin and St. Maarten.

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