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Dominica's private sector wants public inquiry into looting after Hurricane Maria

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) — The Dominica Business Forum (DCF) is calling for a public inquiry into the looting that followed the September 18 devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

DCF chairman, Severin McKenzie, said that the issue had been raised last month with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit where the private sector group raised a number of issues “concerning the building of confidence particularly as it relates to the looting that took place after Hurricane Maria.

“The questions we have asked are what mechanisms are being put in place to give any local investor a certain level of confidence that they should re-invest in the Dominican economy knowing that within the next six months when we are facing another hurricane season and what is going to prevent the same kind of criminality that took place after Maria,” he said.

Last month, Prime Minister Skerrit said that a review would be held to determine what went wrong with security on the island following the passage of the category 5 hurricane that killed at least 29 people and left millions of dollars in damage.

“Critically, we are going to have some kind of review as to what went wrong on September 19. Why wasn't there sufficient coverage by the police on September 19.”

'We can know what went wrong if anything and what needs to be done to avoid….that happening in the future. So there will be different aspects of the review of the police force…,” Skerrit said then in a live interview Friday on the state-owned DBS radio.

McKenzie said that the private sector, which employs in excess of 15,000 people in Dominica, is also seeking a “public inquiry into what went wrong, not only with the police, but what went wrong generally in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria that Dominicans could actually turn on the private sector with the level of brutality that they did”.

He said there are a number of issues the private sector wants discussed, including the shortage of building material on the island.

“One of the questions that we raised is, if it is possible for the government could make some kind of facility availability to bring in the basic materials that are required for the reconstruction process in bulk and distributed to the various suppliers so that they could guarantee the quality of the material needed”.

McKenzie said that there were many homeowners willing to rebuild, but they “tell you it is almost a nightmare getting materials in Dominica”.