From Friday to Sunday, President Luis Abinader visited Santiago, the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, for meetings with the community and his cabinet. He had a very full schedule.
President Luis Abinader held a press conference at the Hotel Gran Almirante at the end of his three-day work weekend in Santiago.
He announced that he would establish a “government house” in Santiago to be able to better identify the priorities of the area. Over the weekend he held the first cabinet meeting in Santiago, reviewing actions taken by his government in its first 25 days in office.
During his visit, Abinader toured the three leading public hospitals in the city that have been under remodeling for years. These are the Cabral y Baez, the Presidente Estrella Ureña and the Dr. Arturo Grullon Children’s Regional Hospital. After seeing the remodeling works, he announced that his government would ensure that the Regional University Hospital Jose Maria Cabral y Baez (the full name) be finished by the end of the year. This would end a decade or more of suffering by patients and staff alike.
During his press conference, he said he favors complying with the law that calls for allotting 10% of GDP to city governments. He announced increased funding for the city governments.
The President visited the Cienfuegos slum area, affected by flooding caused by the major leak in the water tank in the area. He announced the start of a plan to repair 30,000 houses nationwide with spending of RD$1.9 billion and that the plan would include the people of Cienfuegos, Santiago. Furthermore, he said 37% of the homes affected by the recent tropical storms are in the Cibao region and will be repaired as part of this plan, “Dominicana se Reconstruye” (Dominicana Rebuilds). The plan falls under the National Housing Institute (Invi) and will be completed by December 2020.
He said a priority of his government is to modernize water systems. He says improvements for Coraasan, the Santiago aqueduct system, are in the works. He committed to seeing that every town will have its water systems running before his four years of government are up. For Santiago, he says the government envisions constructing a dam on the Amina River, in the province of Valderde, the second such dam in the area. The dam at Moncion and the Counterdam in Martinez supply water to many communities in the provinces of Valverde and Santiago Rodriguez.
At the press conference, the President addressed the possibility of the building of a new Cibao-South highway. This highway, heatedly argued about for decades because it would transect protected areas, would connect the Cibao Valley and the farm valley of San Juan de la Maguana. Currently, there is no even semi-direct way to get from one place to another. It is either to the west and down the International Highway, an “iffy” trip at best, or go south to Piedra Blanca, cross over to Padre de las Casas and then down to the highway between Azua and San Juan de la Maguana, currently about a 5 hour trip under good conditions. However, the President was quite clear in conditioning his stance, saying “as long as it can be done with no environmental impact.”
The President was present for the birthday of Vice President Raquel Peña at a dinner at her house in Santiago.
14 September 2020