THE Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) has condemned the negative reaction by some citizens to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley's offer of six months' shelter to Dominicans affected by Hurricane Maria.
The offer was announced by Rowley at last Thursday's post-Cabinet press conference.
“The PM's offer to the citizens of Dominica has created a variety of remarks,” DOMA said in a media release on Saturday,
“Some of these remarks are distinguished by their lack of charity and by the disease of divisiveness which continues to infect Trinidad and Tobago.”
“Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, despite their reasons for divisiveness and distrust, should not, in the opinion of this association, be washing their dirty linen in public at a time when the citizens of Dominica will probably eventually learn of what we have been saying.
“The negative reaction of some of our citizens to the offer made by our Prime Minister is of great concern to those of us who cherish a memory of a Trinidad and Tobago in which decency and, goodwill to all was once the cornerstone of our traditions,” the release stated.
“This association wishes to endorse the Prime Minister's view that we should be open as a nation to helping those who, through no fault of their own, have been obliterated by a natural disaster. Yes of course, we must be watchful about issues related to security and the immigration but let us not turn our backs on children who may need schooling or persons who may need medical attention or those who may need a chance to live for a short period among us while water and electricity are restored to Dominica,” DOMA said.
DOMA added, “Those who have been cynical about the offer may not have all the information on the dire situation that some of us have due to contact with friends and business associates in Dominica.
“Dominica has been decapitated by the high winds of Hurricane Maria which took the roofs and walls from the majority of premises, destroying the shelter which almost all of us take for granted. A second and perhaps more destructive aspect peculiar to Dominica are boulders, mud and assorted trees and branches which cascaded down the mountains in the many rivers that Dominica is famous for. This deluge of mountainous sludge has totally destroyed roads and bridges and clogged the towns and cities, making them impassable. Countless homes were pushed over and many persons were injured when boulders and trees crashed through their walls pinning them down in their premises.”
DOMA pointed out that other Caribbean nations have reached out to assist Dominica.
“In response to this calamity, the hospitals in Antigua have been receiving those who can make it across for medical attention. Ferries and sloops from St Lucia are making hourly trips to bring whatever they can carry to the dockside in Roseau. Helicopter services from Guadeloupe are rescuing those trapped in mountainous areas, some without food and water for days and taking them to Pointe-a-Pitre for treatment,” DOMA said.
“The offer by our Prime Minister has to be seen in this same light - that offer will probably not bring thousands of Dominicans to our shores – every citizen of Dominica probably wants to remain with his/her family and try to rebuild what was lost - but what the offer of Prime Minster Rowley does do is give encouragement to those who have lost everything. Anyone who has had any loss can attest that expressions of concern convey comfort and give inspiration to 'pick up the pieces' and carry on.
“The destruction of Dominica and the wasteland left after the passing of Maria, is so great that it may actually considered a humanitarian crisis,” the association said.
DOMA said Trinidadians and Tobagonians may one day need the charity of others.
“We wish to endorse the collection drive taking place at St Finbar's Church, Morne Coco Road, specifically of building materials and canned food. We pray that grace and peace will infiltrate the minds and hearts of those who have reacted hastily and that concern for our neighbours will be predicated not only our human spirit of kindness but also on our own fear of the unknown future in which we may one day soon depend on the charity of others,” DOMA said.