Benoit Bardouille, CEO, Dominica Port Authority
Benoit Bardouille, CEO, Dominica Port Authority

A day after he announced that he had stepped up security at the Douglas-Charles airport in Marigot, Benoit Bardouille, the Airport's Chief Executive Officer, has reported that communication equipment was destroyed there early this morning.

"We are conducting a thorough investigation into the matter," Bardouille told state-owned DBS radio earlier this evening.

He said the equipment, valued at approximately one million dollars, was located at Captain Bruce in Marigot, about two miles from the airport.

Although the airport authority is worried about the loss, Bardouille said operations have not been disrupted at the airport.

"We continue to operate because we do have back-up systems and based on the backup systems we are able to function normally," he said.

Bardouille said he suspects arson.

Meanwhile, Bardouille said in a statement released yesterday that he has increased security around the Douglas-Charles and Canefield airports.

"With immediate effect and until further notice, only persons that demonstrate that they have legitimate business at the airport will be granted access to the Douglas-Charles Airport and the Canefield Airport," the statement said.

It continued: "Reference is made to Civil Aviation Act 21 of 2005 to Section 24 (3), (4) and (5) which states,

"Every person in a security restricted area shall, on the request of a security officer, state his name and address, and produce satisfactory evidence of its correctness, and the purpose of his presence in such area and his authority to enter it.

"A security officer may order, any person who has failed to satisfy a request made under subsection (3) to leave a security restricted area and any such person shall comply with such an order.

"A security officer and any person he calls to his assistance, may use such force as may be reasonably necessary to remove from any security restricted area any person who fails or refuses forthwith to leave the security restricted area after having been ordered by a security officer to do so in accordance with subsection (3)."

"Persons not willing to comply with the lawful instructions provided by a Police Officer or Security Officer at the Airport may be removed from the Airport," the statement said.

These new restrictions are in direct response to a call for a demonstration scheduled for Wednesday from Lennox Linton, the political leader of the opposition United Workers Party (UWP), to protest the alleged importation, by the ruling Dominica Labour Party, of Dominicans living overseas who are not eligible to vote in the December 8, 2014 elections. On Tuesday, Linton called off the planned demonstration.

In another twist to the situation, Michael Astaphan, the political leader of the now-fringe once-powerful Dominica Freedom Party has stated that police officers are apparently camping around the Douglas-Charles airport.

In a letter, made public this evening, to Police Commissioner Daniel Carbon, Astaphan said Carbon would understand "our concern and trepidation when we were informed that individuals have personally reported that police men are encamped at the Douglas-Charles Airport and are patrolling the airport dressed in camouflage military uniforms. I am further instructed that these policemen have been encamped there for several days causing growing public anxiety and concern".

Astaphan said the police should be investigating allegations of elections bribery instead.