Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said his administration is prepared to take legal action against the US-owned Ross University regarding the ownership and occupation of buildings on lands that had been leased to the offshore medical institution that has since relocated to Barbados.
Earlier this year, Ross University left Dominica under controversial circumstances after having been on the island for the past 40 years.
The university later defended its decision to relocate to Bridgetown saying it had been taken “after considerable deliberations, including a review of our academic and infrastructural requirement and future plan”.
The Skerrit Administration said it had informed the Ross University School of Medicine that it could have resumed its operations on the hurricane struck island even before the start of the January semester in 2019.
In a July 9, three-page letter to the university, Prime Minister Skerrit had indicated that plans were advanced for the resumption of classes.
Skerrit, speaking at a meeting with Dominicans residing overseas who are home for independence celebrations, said that Dominica had entered into an agreement for the lease of the land in the north of the island where the university had located its campus.
“The campus belongs to the state. A lease agreement was entered into between Ross University and the government of Dominica leasing the 27.2 acres to Ross and in that lease it states very clearly, and even our existing laws make it very clear also, that if you are leasing property and anything they build upon it, it will belong to the owner.
“So we really want Ross to hand over these buildings to us sooner rather than later. The Attorney General (Levi Peter) is in discussions with them and the sooner they can get out, the better for us. If they do not want to move when we want them to move we will take them to court as simple as that,” Skerrit told the meeting.
He told the visiting Dominicans that the government is in discussions with at least four entities for a replacement to Ross University.
He said another entity is due on island later this month “to look at the possibility of setting up a medical school here. Out of this four there is one that we can literally sign right away with but we want to ensure that they have an opportunity to come into Dominica, to look at the campus and to engage us and to see which is the best one we want to pursue it with”.
In August, Skerrit said he had also appointed a task force, headed by prominent cardiologist, Professor Gerald Grell, to assist in the engagements with the parties.