Dominicans eager to take relief items to their relatives

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Dominica after Maria

A Dominican man has expressed disappointment that he was unable to board the Montserrat ferry and then a chartered boat to travel to Dominica to take relief supplies for his mother.

The man, who spoke to Antigua News Room (ANR) on condition of anonymity, said after arriving at the dock in the Heritage Quay area with expectations to leave Sunday night, the sea craft left without him and the other Dominicans who had gathered to make the trip.

On Tuesday, he said a chartered boat should have left with persons from Antigua to Dominica to take relief items but was denied permission.

Dominican authorities have advised people to send supplies to the Government Relief Centre, but the 34-year-old man said his mother will not get the items that are meant for her through this channel.

Also, the prime minister of that country announced that he does not wish to have hundreds of people flocking to the country at this time because of health concerns.

The man told ANR that he would not have stayed in his homeland, but only ensure that the supplies reach his mother then return to Antigua.

“My destination would have been Dominica to drop off supplies because as I understand my mother has not seen any of the supplies, she has seen them land, she’s seen them depart but nobody has been checking on them to deliver supplies since the hurricane.

“We have not been able to send any supplies. What they (government officials) are saying is if we send supplies…our family members, they tell us they have not been getting supplies…What we have been told by LIAT is that if we send supplies it will be distributed through the government system, which they will not get it, so we want to go in person with our packages to ensure that they get delivered,” the man said.

Meanwhile, Port Manager Darwin Telemaque said the ferry, which is owned by Neville Wade is on contract and controlled by the Montserrat Government.

He said the ferry cannot do what it wants without getting authorisation from the relevant authorities.

In addressing the issue of people being unable to board the vessel to take supplies to family in Dominica, Telemaque said the Governments of Montserrat and Antigua and Barbuda, through the Dominica-Antigua Relief Fund (DARF), are in discussions to ship relief supplies to Dominica on board the ferry.

Telemaque was quick to point out that no one will be allowed to travel with the supplies.

The port manager said the ferry would, however, be able to transport people from Dominica to Antigua who would wish to leave because of health and educational purposes, and to travel if their bread winners are here.

“We are discussing getting the ferry to go down to Dominica to bring relief supplies from Montserrat and from Antigua. It is not to take mass amounts of people down, and some people don’t like to hear that. What we would do, however, if there are people willing to leave and the ferry is coming back, they can come up. It makes no sense to take 220 people which is the capacity of the ferry,” Telemaque noted.

He continued,“Maybe other people want to leave the island…if they want to get out, a system has to be in place to get them out safely and in an organised manner so it does not look like we are enforcing our desperate will and interest on another country…”

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