Demand an immediate solution
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Demand an immediate solution

Pond Island, landfill. Pond Island, landfill.

SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - On behalf of Sint Maarten Pride Foundation, I recently delivered a letter to his Excellency, Governor Holiday. In that letter Sint Maarten Pride requested the intervention of the governor in the situation with the dump. Pride also asked His Royal Majesty, King Willem-Alexander to intervene and the letter was also sent to the Dutch representative on the island.

Sint Maarten Pride has no faith in our local government to find solutions and so called upon the Governor and the Kingdom to intervene. This situation has gone beyond local politics.

This letter was publicized in the newspapers as well as on several social media sites. The response from the public, residents and tourists alike, has been overwhelmingly positive. It is clear from those responses that not only PRIDE, but the community at large, has lost faith in our government officials to solve this problem.

As I write this Letter to the Editor, I can see the fires still burning. Kudos to our brave fire personnel who have been fighting this day and night.

The truth is, however, that they are woefully under equipped to handle landfill fires of this magnitude.

In fact, this dump has taken over our lives and is completely unmanageable. I personally, along with many others, including PRIDE, have been warning about this for years and years and years. And nothing, nothing, has been done.

There is a discussion about this being arson. This is an old story and, in my opinion, is used as an excuse by government to deflect blame from themselves. The statements government needs to be making are statements about solutions not about causes. The fires can start for many reasons. People need to educate themselves on outdated land filling methods, which is what we have. If a landfill is not properly maintained, these fires are what occur. Google it!

I believe at this point we need outside intervention and professional advice. As a major public health concern this issue isn’t going anywhere until a modern day solid waste solution is finalized.  All interested parties need to come together to make this happen. Stop the bickering between yourselves and the politics, and join together to get something done.

Our people are being poisoned by this monstrosity and yet our politicians and government officials sit and have already started the blame game. There is plenty of blame to go around, and I blame every party and every elected official that has ever sat in government and done nothing about this dump. It has never been a priority for any of them, and we the people of St Maarten are paying the price.

How sad is it that the Nature Foundation is the one handing out masks? That the Nature Foundation needed extra donations to buy more masks?  Kudos to them, but why isn’t our government handing out masks? Why does it take a NGO to shoulder that responsibility?

It is time for the people of St Maarten, and tourists too, to stand up and say we are not taking this anymore. Please write letters to Governor Holiday and letters to King Willem-Alexander (through the Dutch Representative Office of Chris Johnson). Demand an immediate solution!

Barbara Cannegieter

COMMENTARY: The comments are the sole responsibility of the author.

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