(LOOP NEWS CARIBBEAN) – Four Caribbean countries will receive a total of US$159 million in loans from the World Bank to enhance their air transport connectivity and infrastructure.
On Thursday, the World Bank’s (WB) Board of Executive Directors approved the series of loans, which is part of the Caribbean Regional Air Transport Connectivity Project.
The loans include International Development Association (IDA) financing of US$13 million for Dominica, US$17 million for Grenada, US$84 million for Haiti and US$45 million for Saint Lucia.
Haiti will receive a grant, and the three Eastern Caribbean islands will receive concessional financing with a maturity of 40 years, including a grace period of ten years.
WB said Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and Haiti are reliant on the air transport sector and face common connectivity issues and the projects will enable them to better accommodate diverted flights, emergency landings, post-disaster relief flights and improve regional capacity and collaboration in the sector.
World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Tahseen Sayed said: “This series of three projects aim to increase the safety and the overall resilience of key connection points in the Eastern Caribbean.”
“The World Bank’s first financing of airport projects in the Caribbean will also facilitate connectivity and support countries during the COVID-19 recovery phase.”
World Bank Country Director for Haiti Anabela Abreu said: “the project will modernize air transport infrastructure and support critical improvements in safety, resilience, and regulatory oversight.”
“The project is important to COVID-19 recovery efforts, as Haiti’s economy will benefit from enhanced connectivity and resilience.”
In Dominica, the project aims to improve safety and airport resilience readiness to natural disasters and to strengthen the capacity of agencies handling air transportation operations and airport investment planning.
Navigation and safety equipment will be improved, enabling emergency landing in case of natural disasters and increasing capacity in air traffic control, wildlife management, airport management and planning.
The Grenada project will support increased safety and efficiency of airport operations and navigation, make climate resilience improvements, and strengthen the country’s capacity in civil aviation and airport management.
This includes installation of air navigation and safety equipment at the main international airport, construction of a runway end safety area and a resilient air cargo facility, and preparation of an aviation sector strategic plan.
In Haiti, the project aims to increase operational safety, improve navigation, and enhance the resilience of infrastructure to natural disasters to ensure continuity of essential supply chains and health emergency services.
Infrastructure investments include rehabilitating the runway in Cap Haitien, construction of a taxiway in Port au Prince, installation of a modern air traffic monitoring and control systems, and improvements to airfield drainage aimed at reducing the risk of flooding.
Technical assistance includes skills training and measures to support women’s employment in the air transport sector.
The project for Saint Lucia aims to improve operational safety and navigation and enhance the resilience of airport infrastructure to natural disasters.
This will include improvements to the runway of the Hewanorra International Airport and its associated facilities, such as runway-end safety areas, airfield drainage, and crash and fire rescue facilities.
Activities will also include installation of modernized air navigation systems, and institutional strengthening in air traffic control and management.