Dajabon, Elias Piña, Independencia and Pedernales are waiting for the execution of tourist plans
Dajabon and Elias Piña and Independencia and Pedernales are separated by roads in bad condition. The provinces are waiting for the execution of tourist plans.
Between Restauracion and Pedro Santana there is a highway with no asphalt which travels through an imposing mountain system, with great precipices which form part of the Central Mountains. The 48.3 km outline the frontier between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the middle of a stretch with few houses and the forested areas. This is the International Highway, a solitary and deteriorated road, known for one peculiarity: the Haitian children which cause and impact on you as they run after the few vehicles that pass in order to ask for money or food from the passengers.
It doesn’t matter where they are, once they hear a motor, they run out to the road barefoot, semi-nude or with dirty clothes. They come from crumbling shacks without basic services. The children issue a guttural sound in order to call attention or they shout “give me five pesos!”
Some of them attend the two Haitian schools that are on the edge of the highway, and their parents work mostly cultivating small patches called ‘conucos’. They have lived this way for years.
With the purpose of reaching an agreement regarding aspects of the territorial limits, the Haitian and Dominican governments approved the construction of the International Highway as the point of connection between the North and the South (Restauracion and Banica). Both countries financed its cost of US$450,000, with work starting on 14 July 1936 and finishing on 1 July 1942.
William Paez Piantini, an ambassador and head of the Frontier Limits Division of the Chancellery, explains why it was made: “The line of demarcation of the frontier made it clearly established that all the territory of La Miel belonged to the Dominican Republic, and while the negotiations were carried out, the Haitians went in there, occupying the territory of La Miel, and when there was a need to draw the line of demarcation, all the territory of La Miel remained in favor of the Haitians, a territory which is declared Dominican, and for this reason they built the International Highway. This is the only stretch of the International Highway.”
The road begins in Villa Anacaona, Restauracion, and ends at the pass of Los Cacaos in Pedro Santana. After 73 years, it is abandoned, and not everyone will dare to venture on it. They are put off by the lack of asphalt, the many curves and precipices, and because although there are Forts of the Army of the Dominican Republic at different points, it is considered to be unsafe, since there have been assaults.
In addition, there is the fact that some months ago, a bridge in Los Cacaos broke, and at the present time it is necessary to detour through Haiti in order to cover 7 km among a community which lives in a desert-like environment and in extreme poverty.
On 10 September 2014, the Senate approved a proposal of a resolution by the chairman of the Frontier Commission of the chamber, Sonia Mateo, and the Senator from Elias Piña, Adriano Sanchez Roa. The proposal asked that the Executive Power include in the National Budget of 2015 the resources to asphalt the highway, but this was not done. This, in spite of the fact that the highway, in good condition, could become a center for the connection of the productive regions of San Juan and Santiago in the Dominican Republic and Hinche and Cape Haitian in Haiti. The Director General of Frontier Development agrees with this position.
Pedernales and Independencia; close, but far
The authorities of Independencia and Pedernales talk of plans for tourism from cruisers and Eco-tourism routes, which include Lake Enriquillo and the Bahia de los Aguilas. But there is a problem: the highway that connects the two provinces.
In order to go from Puerto Escondido in Independencia, to the provincial capital of Pedernales, one must travel for six hours or more than 220 km, which includes going through Barahona. But there is a road that permits doing this in 74 km. Unfortunately, it has 53 km of very deteriorated roadway from Puerto Escondido to the crossroads of Mencia, in Pedernales, which are preferably traveled in off-road vehicles or 4 x 4s.
This highway in bad condition penetrates the National Park of the Sierra of Bahoruco, and although ecological sectors are opposed that it be conditioned, alleging that it would impact the forest, others feel that it would bring social and economic results on an important scale.
“Both the community for the development of Duverge, as well as we in the province of Pedernales, are doing everything humanly possible (to have the road asphalted),” says the governor of Pedernales, Angel Zabala. “We would have the facility to connect ourselves with the province of Bahoruco, and we could leave from Barahona, travel along the coast, and who ever wanted to could return through the area of Duverge, take a trip around the lake, and does not have to return by the same road, which is what we have to do now.”
Tourism on hold
Of the five frontier provinces, three are considered among the poorest of the country. With two of them on the coastline, with kilometers of beaches and places such as the Morro of Montecristi at the beginning of the region, until reaching the end, at the Oviedo Lagoon in Pedernales, have places with a high tourist potential.
The current administration of President Danilo Medina has laid down the goal of formalizing the South as the fourth tourist pole of the country.
This development would impact the frontier economies, but the proposals are still on hold. One of them is a legislative proposal presented by the Senator from Elias Piña to create an ecological and tourism corridor along the frontier which includes Santiago Rodriguez and Bahoruco. The initiative contemplates incentives and tax exemptions for the investors and tourists. It has expired in the legislature and has been reintroduced.
In order to reach the provinces using the passenger bus routes, visitors have more than 600 bus units available, either independent or affiliated to the syndicates. In the capital, the bus terminals are located around Duarte Avenue, and the cost of a fare fluctuates between RD$350 and RD$500.
Another way to be taken advantage of is by air. Pedernales has the airport at Cabo Rojo for military flights and Montecristi has the Osvaldo Virgil aerodrome, which was reopened in April of this year.
If the tourist corridor was made, they would have to work on the telecommunication service, since in places close to the frontier line, the signal of local providers is lost, and the “roaming” from Haiti is activated. In addition, Haitian radio stations are heard kilometers inside Dominican territory and vice- versa.
-San Fernando and Villa Vasquez need their streets asphalted
-More than 70% of the banana production is transported on the highway between Mao and Copey. Since 2007 they have been repairing it.
-The highway between Guayubin and Santiago Rodriguez was started in 2005, and has not been finished.
-Communities are isolated because of the bad condition of the roads, among them Hondo Valle, which needs a bridge to be completed.
-The bridge in Pedro Santana over the Artibonito River needs to be repaired.
-There are 10 stretches of highway that need to be reconstructed and the streets of Juan Santiago, Hondo Valle, Rio Limpio, Sabana Larga, Guayabo, El Llano, Banica, Pedro Santana and Guanito need to have the paving completed.
-Some 24 km, which go from La Descubierta to Los Pinos del Eden need to be reconstructed, and 15 km from Postrer Rio to Guayabal-El Maniel and Los Bolos are in the same condition.
May 21, 2015
Category: DR News |