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NV GEBE Opens Simpson Bay Branch Office on Wednesday. Philipsburg Branch Open

SIMPSON BAY - NV GEBE hereby informs the general public that the Simpson Bay Branch will be open to the public with limited hours as of tomorrow, September 27, 2017, from 7:45am to 1:00pm. 

The Philipsburg branch endured some damages during the passing of Hurricane Irma which resulted in GEBE reorganizing its departments to accommodate its clients. 

The Philipsburg branch is now open for all hurricane related issues such as:

  • Water was restored to your area and your water meter has not been replaced,
  • Power was restored in your area and you are without power,
  • All customer queries (Hurricane related)

While the Simpson Bay branch will now be able to accommodate:

  • All customer queries,
  • Closing of accounts,
  • New connection,
  • Payments and all other customer related request. 

Please walk with a bill and an ID for easier processing. 

For further information please feel free to email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 1 721 546 1100, 546 1127, 546 1160, 546 1193 or our toll-free emergency number which can be call from any cellular phone or land line 1 844 432 3213. The Simpson Bay branch office can be reached 545 2259 or 588 0564.

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PPA Arrindell: Where do we stand, which direction are we heading. Time for debate

PHILIPSBURG – Leader of the People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) Gracita Arrindell has heartfelt appreciation for His Royal Highness King Willem Alexander for his presence and solidarity with the people of Sint Maarten during these most difficult times.

“Giving hope and sincerely expressed solidarity to rebuild and support in time of great distress is greatly appreciated, and will not be forgotten.  The people of Sint Maarten want to know where they stand, which direction are we heading into.  Time for a national debate on the rebuilding that includes the people is now.”

Gracita states: “First, my deep-felt condolences goes out to all who have lost a loved one, a family, a friend, or a beloved pet in the aftermath of the hurricanes.

“Gratitude goes out to every first responder, every ordinary citizen who lost their homes, businesses or parts thereof and still went out of his or her way to selflessly volunteer and assist another person in dire need. Kudos to all the police, military, coastguard, marines, locally established, and those who came from within the KINGDOM or elsewhere. Many still present to assist in whatever task they were assigned to do.  God Bless you!

There are so many more to say Thank you to, including; doctors & staff, clean-up crews, GEBE, radio stations, especially laser 101, and others who via the social media did their part in a positive way to ease or lessen the stress so many are dealing with now. Strangers helping each other, sharing and meals and other items.

Gracita said: “This is the Sint Maarten social spirit I know we must focus on. This is the Sint Maarten kindness and friendly- ness, I saw and embraced.  Not the ugliness. The latter does not define who we are as a People. As time trickles by and impatience grows, we must keep a cool head, now more than ever.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, we must first give thanks for life. To God Be the Glory.  Sint Maarten shall rise again.

However, it cannot and must never be business as usual. Many residents are confused and frustrated, and afraid. Understandably so. Our citizens, our valued tourist, must receive a clear, unambiguous message, that real issues will be dealt with poste-haste. Not behind closed doors only, and tell residents after.  The official messages must be short, timely, consistent, dependable, trusted, open and Transparent.

“The People want to know! and deserve to be heard and included in the discussions and consequent redevelopment of our beautiful island.

We are only 37 square miles, now with less people than before the destruction of the hurricanes. A real national debate on reconstruction with the input from our citizens.  The format is known, it can be done.”

Arrindell states:” there is not one political party, not one political person that is greater than Sint Maarten. None! This is a great opportunity to clean up literally and figuratively. Re-group and re-build, smarter, better, with the well- being and prosperity of the People first, not last. 

Arrindell states; “I have always been known as a dedicated no -none sense person when it comes to working for our island in any capacity entrusted.  Going forward here are some issues I hope to see included in the current plans. None of the issues below should be in complicated time-consuming reports. Not necessarily in order of importance these are:

* A national information plan for local and international consumption.  Present ‘Drip form’ (mis)communication is doing more harm than good to Sint Maarten and our People.  Daily, reliable, trustworthy government information is critical.

* Update our safety and security plan asap.  People do not feel safe, whether imagined or not.  Update the re- evacuation reports. Deport all persons who have committed crimes and found guilty.

* Include the leaders of the community councils in the re-building plans. Sint Maarten consists of Districts (15_17_) We are fortunate not having to deal with millions of people. Our issues are manageable, short term- midterm and long term, if it’s done right.

* Enact a new building code, with grace period for present temporary construction, that includes all key institutions such as schools, government buildings, utility companies, airport, telecom companies, banks, hospitals, hotels, large supermarkets, pharmacy’s etc. community centers, senior citizens homes. The new building code must include construction along the sea lines from the airport road down ward, a few feet above ground, with walk ways, better view of the lagoon, complete underground cable etc.

* Include two separate utility distribution points, one in Philipsburg and all surrounding areas, and one before the hill to Philipsburg. Each district should have water hydro’s and more designated cistern locations.

* Finalize underground cable system once and for all.

* Install sewage lines from airport straight down to Cay-bay.

* Economic recovery plan should include a more efficient and shorter business license process, personal and business grace period and soft loans that people truly get a new start, speed up social housing.

Finally; “There is more, not in the least dealing with the humongous filth and debris, and the growing ‘Mount Everest’ dump in Philipsburg once and for all. 

For now, I conclude with this Question, what kind of Country do we want to be in the aftermath of this most recent natural disaster?

A Nation of many or a Nation of One?  A Nation of any or a Nation of None?  Let us put our differences aside for the sake of our future generations. If we fail to plan and not learn from past mistakes, we plan to fail. The latter is not an option.”

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Guyana to assist citizens wishing to evacuate. Meeting on Wednesday

CUL DE SAC - There will be an urgent meeting for all citizens of Guyana, especially those wishing to return home, on Wednesday, September 27, 2017, at 3:00pm with the Honorary Consul, Mr. Cleveland Beresford. The meeting will take place at St. Maarten Academy’s academic campus.

The Minister of Citizenship, the Hon. Winston Felix is requesting the following information:

Names of evacuees, passport number, address in Guyana, name and address of relative/friend and telephone number in Guyana to arrange the evacuation flight. The Government of Guyana is arranging this transportation to Guyana free of cost.

Please contact any one of the following persons to give your information:

  1. Mrs. Felix – 527-0704
  2. Mr. Beresford – 581-1402

Or you can visit St. Maarten Academy (academic campus) Monday thru Friday between 8:00am and 3:00pm (this week only) to leave this information with Mr. Fortune.

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Two new Garbage Trucks Arrive for the Ministry of VROMI

POND ISLAND - Honorable Minister of VROMI Christopher Emmanuel, requested two garbage trucks from the Government of The Netherlands to assist with the waste situation post Hurricane Irma and Maria.

The two garbage trucks will be assisting the trucks in the areas Cay Hill, Bush Road and Cole Bay under the operation of Meadowlands NV.

Civil Mission Head Mr. Erwin Arkenbout is on the island with a group of 15 specialists assessing the current situation on the island. They will also assist with housing, water distribution, reconstruction of schools and much more to help rebuild Sint Maarten.

Minister Emmanuel expressed his gratitude to the Dutch Government with assisting thus far. He is also looking forward to the additional heavy equipment and materials arriving on the Joint Logistic Support Ship His Majesty Karel Doorman. 

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SZV OFFICE RE-OPEN FOR ZV INSURED CUSTOMERS MONDAY TO FRIDAY

PHILIPSBURG - Social & Health Insurances SZV will re-open Monday thru Friday as of Monday September 25th from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm permitting stable electricity, water and internet connections. SZV will re-open one central office location offering limited services primarily for ZV insured customers and slowly expand over the coming weeks towards normal operations, conditions permitting.

Scheduled appointments up until September 29th will be re-scheduled by SZV and customers will be contacted, eliminating the need to visit the office to re-schedule.

“We are happy to have the office open again to the public, despite the current conditions. Our staff has never actually stopped working. We have a small team stationed in Curacao at the moment who is managing our customers abroad and those who have evacuated. The office doors were closed, but our online customer service has been active via Facebook and our phone lines recently re-opened as well. We are blessed to have a dedicated team, who despite their own devastating loss and damage, has shown nothing but commitment to serve in these challenging times. The hours that are being put in behind the scenes are not to be measured. I am very proud of our SZV family. We too have our Irma challenges but we are overcoming them each day through collaborative effort, as a team, together with our stakeholders and the community at large.” – Management of SZV

Office location: Harbour View Building, Building 3 – Level 1 (Closest building next to Xerox)
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Services available: Monday 25th – Friday 29th of September

- Doctor control: For ZV insured only! Opening hours 9:00 am – 12:00pm. Only visit SZV if you are still unfit for work and have visited a house doctor or the hospital. Proof (letter) of your visit to the house doctor or hospital must be brought with you. No numbers will be assigned after 12:00 pm.
- Prescription stamps: Stamp and Go service
- AVBZ: Submit requests and general information
- Medical Reimbursement requests: Drop-off of reimbursement request
- Seniors & Benefits desk: General information
- Employers desk: General information


IMPORTANT:

  • Medical referral requests cannot be processed as yet. All medical emergencies will be handled by the St. Maarten Medical Center.
  • We are unable to print any insurance cards at the moment. It is not yet possible to apply or re-new insurance cards. Persons with appointments will be re-scheduled.
  • SZV customers who have evacuated to Curacao can contact the following numbers for medical related information: +5999 522-4957, +5999 515-6663, +5999 516-6663.
  • Doctor change September: Doctor change requests for the month of September has been postponed until further notice.

Visiting customers are asked to be patient as there may be an influx of customers during the coming weeks. SZV is committed to assisting as many persons possible during the opening hours and asks for the cooperation of each visitor to maintain a smooth process for all. For security and hygiene reasons; if there is no stable, electricity or water supply during opening hours, SZV may close its office earlier than scheduled. Persons with general inquiries are encouraged to make use of the customer service phone line +1721 546-6782 or online contact via the SZV Facebook page.

Customers are asked to pay close attention to the media announcements and SZV Facebook page for updates on services, online procedures and other important notices.

SZV Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SZV.org/

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Clean-up of schools. Warning issued about trespassing, damaging and stealing of school materials

PHILIPSBURG - Hurricane Irma has left our island in a critical state. The education infrastructure serves as one of the most important pillars in our society, and has suffered tremendously. In addition, we can also conclude that our (in) tangible cultural heritage and sport facilities are also critically damaged.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (Ministry ECYS) has received many heartfelt messages as well as pledges from International, Caribbean and Kingdom counterparts, to assist in the restoration of St. Maarten’s educational structure.

The Ministry ECYS has already received assistance from the Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR), which assists in the event of a disaster. USAR and local contractors have currently been assisting at public and subsidized schools with the removal of debris, galvanize, and securing of the schools.

The pro-active clean up approach of the St. Maarten Academy, Methodist Agogic Center, and Sister Borgia Primary School, along with parents and volunteers, is commendable, as it is imperative that our students return to school in a timely manner.

As a Ministry, we are working with the subsidized schools to assess the structural damage. The pre-exam and exam students remain a priority to return to school by the target date, however, any and all classes that are able to commence at that date will do so. Further updates will be announced periodically.

The reality is, hurricane Irma brought our nation back in time, and although undesired, we are confident in our ability to rebuild, as we are resilient people.

Regaining some normalcy as soon as possible is our highest priority as the Government of St. Maarten; however, the youth of St. Maarten is the priority for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport. Consequently, the transitional re-opening of the majority of the schools within the next two weeks (October 2nd, 2017), mental support, school materials and assistance to the parents, teachers, and students is a priority.  

Despite Hurricane Irma’s natural disaster, there are still persons attempting to delay the reopening of schools by trespassing and damaging the school property and stealing the school materials. Persons caught breaking and entering at the school properties will be held according and prosecuted by the laws of the land to the fullest extent.

In these times, our national identity is important to support the perseverance to rebuild St. Maarten and reinforce our strong nation. Minister Jacobs thanks all stakeholders, International, Caribbean and Kingdom counterparts, who have pledged assistance for the necessary strategic plans, ensure the speedy return of our students, teachers, management and staff back to school.

“We are currently planning how best to take care to meet the needs of our school management, teachers and staff in order for them to meet the needs of our students during this stressful time.

“Many who are away have pledged to return, and we pledge to offer the structural and emotional support needed to make this workable for all concerned. May God bless us all as we work to rebuild our St. Maarten even stronger than it was before. We are SXMStrong!”

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Community getting back on track. Police uses drone surveillance

PHILIPSBURG - As the community of Sint Maarten is gradually getting back on track in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Sint Maarten Police Force along with the assistance from the police forces of Aruba and Curacao, the Netherlands, Caribbean Netherlands, the Royal Marechausse, VKC, VKS, the Custom Department, Coast Guard and Dutch Marines, it is very noticeable that the situation on the streets has calmed tremendously.

The community is respecting the curfew while it is in effect. The calm and the sense of safety and security within the community in continuously growing and this is due to the increase in joint patrols by the different organizations which are very active in all communities and are assisting where ever needed.

The community has become much more active in getting the island cleaned up and focusing on getting the island rebuilt.

The Police Department is temporarily making the use of “drones” to capture aerial views of all neighborhoods; mainly the areas that are less accessible by vehicle. This is to get a better picture of what is going in those areas and which will in turn promote safety and security on the island.

These “drones” are operated by police officers qualified to operate them and have been quite successful in the gathering of vital information. (Sint Maarten Police Force) 

PHOTO CUTLINE: Police drone footage of food wholesaler Prime Distributors in Cole Bay.

Drone Prime

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Water plants operational. Seven tanks damaged

PHILIPSBURG – The country’s water drinking infrastructure was damaged with the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 6.  Seven out of 12 water tanks were damaged.

Four of the seven tanks lost their roofs while another three has to be repaired or completely replaced. 

During the press conference on Thursday, NV GEBE Management requested the public to boil piped water before using it to drink, but that it was safe for bathing and hygienic purposes.

The company continues to work in the various districts connecting homes and businesses back to the water network.  Attention is paid to the water meters to make sure that there aren’t any leaking pipes and that the meters are in place or weren’t damaged.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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TelEm Group praises dedicated staff for outstanding performance

POND ISLAND - TelEm Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Kendall Dupersoy, and Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Mr. Eldert Louisa, have praised the dedicated work of company personnel who came out hours after the passage of Hurricane Irma, on September 6th, to render assistance to customers and the general public of St. Maarten.

According to the two top officials, Technical staff were out within hours of the passage of the storm to assess damage and begin salvaging whatever equipment they could.

The earliest assessment was relayed by the CEO to Government via the Emergency Operations Center and also to the general public via a radio announcement soon after the passing of Hurricane Irma.

“Fortunately for many people, a good part of our telecommunication infrastructure lies underground so during and after the passing of Hurricane Irma some people could call friends and families overseas and also could continue to monitor weather conditions and send out reports via the internet,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

At the time, he assured the general population that since some communication was available, priority was being given to securing the well-being of personnel and their families, 20 of whom had reportedly lost their homes and were taking shelter elsewhere.

Mr. Dupersoy said an extraordinary meeting of the Supervisory Board of Directors with TelEm Group management was convened on September 14th to again assess the status of the telecommunication infrastructure after Hurricane Irma, the status of company personnel following the storm and also TelEm Group schedule and level of restoration to businesses, banks and other vital locations.

During the meeting with the Supervisory Board of Directors, a Board resolution was also drawn up approving an emergency Hurricane restoration fund from which management can help return the company to pre- hurricane Irma conditions.

“I am very grateful to all the TelEm Group staff who have gone above and beyond to restore services to many areas in very creative and extraordinary ways,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Mr. Eldert Louisa, said despite the fact that much of the company’s telecommunication network is underground, there was still some major issues in the Dawn Beach and Guana Bay areas which were still completely out by the 16th of September.

Mr. Louisa also said other affected areas included: Dutch Quarter, where much of the telecommunication infrastructure is still overhead, and where the Outside Plant Network is also completely out as of September 16th; Betty’s Estate, Saunders and Mary’s Fancy, also overhead, were down and Point Blanche area was also affected.

“Our landline fixed network was 60/70% operational because the majority of the network is underground, but here and there we have lines that may be out because of faulty connections and wiring, which will gradually get fixed when we re-open the Helpdesk to give further assistance to customers, “said Mr. Louisa.

He said when customers contact the Helpdesk to report outages, technicians will be able to direct more specific help to them and to affected areas where they can troubleshoot and resolve individual issues.

The CTO said at the weekend that he was busy putting together a list of additional manpower needs for the CTO to that TelEm Group can get expert assistance from other carriers overseas who are offering help.

“For sure we have to bring in specialist help for the mobile and fixed network,” said the CTO.

“Our goal has always been to make our telecommunication network more robust so that we can recover quickly after an incident such as this, so I am satisfied at the pace of recovery so far,” continued Mr. Louisa.

Like the CEO, Mr. Louisa is also full of praise for the company personnel who have shown their professionalism prior to the passage of the storm and after the passage of Irma, for their input and effort to ensure that the network is restored fully as soon as possible.

Regarding the possible passing of Hurricane Maria, close to St. Maarten on Monday evening, Mr. Louisa is once again urging all members of staff to prepare again for another storm even though predictions are that Maria will pass South of St. Maarten.

“We will secure our equipment once again as best as we can, especially from rain and wet conditions, but priority is for our staff to have shelter and to be safe,” said Mr. Louisa.

And meantime, TelEm Group’s Commercial Department, has been fully behind the company’s efforts to keep customers in communication with their loved ones on the island and overseas by providing free Emergency calling on the company’s fixed and mobile networks.

According to Manager, Marketing & Sales, Grisha Marten, both TelEm and TelCell provided active landline and mobile prepaid subscribers with $5 credit as “Emergency Credit” on September 5th, and again on September 11th as a “Hurricane Relief Credit”. The following day, on September 12th, TelCell provided all active data subscribers with free data for a limited time.

To assist customers with Top-up for their mobile phones, the company opened up a special sales window at its main location on Pond Island, selling Sim cards and Top-up cards, even though the damaged main office was officially closed to the general public.

“We have well over 15 Top-up locations now selling only $10 scratch cards and we will be putting the full listing in the daily newspapers and on our Facebook page for general information,” said Ms. Marten. She is advising customers that only TelEm Group’s Main Building on Pond Island will be selling Top-up and Sim Cards for the time being and until further notice.

“I want to thank the Commercial Team for all they have been doing on behalf of TelCell and TelEm Group customers, said the Manager, Marketing & Sales, Ms. Marten.

“By providing everyone with free credit at such an important time, we have demonstrated empathy with our customers at their time of need and we have also shown that we are a reliable telecommunication company,” said Ms. Marten. She says her staff is meantime making use of the hashtag #rebuildSXM in Facebook posts to further inspire and motivate customers and the general public.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Temporary cell site constructions such as this one on top of TelEm Group’s Earth Station on Pond Island is helping with vital communication links in Sucker Garden, Philipsburg and further afield days after the passage of hurricane Irma.

telem thur

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Over 300k pounds supplies secured by TEATT Team Relief, Pawa the most

POND ISLAND - Over 300,000 (Three Hundred thousand) pounds of hurricane relief supplies were secured and delivered by Ministry TEATT Team Relief SXM in the days following Hurricane Irma. The team, which consisted of several volunteers, was quickly formed once commercial airlines was cleared by Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher to fly into St. Maarten to perform humanitarian airlift.

The commercial airline that brought the most supplies into St. Maarten for Team Relief was Pawa Dominicana with 76,200 pounds of relief goods transported. Other major contributors were Sunwing with 28,800, Delta Airlines with 17,800, Copa Airlines with 17,800, Winair with 16, 500, JetBlue with 11,500 and WestJet with 10,500.

Caribbean Airlines, Air Anguilla, Tradewinds Aviation, Seaborne Airlines, Windward Express, Wingo Colombia, Miami Air, Blue City Holding and private charters also brought supplies to the island. Head of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Rolando Brison coordinated most of the flights and expressed appreciation to the management of these airlines for their assistance of St. Maarten in its time of need.

While much of the airlines brought in supplies from the US and Dominican Republic, tens of thousands of pounds were also brought in by commuter airlines from other island in the region, including St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent, Curacao and Puerto Rico. "The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the various tourism directors of the board of CTO were my first goto option to seek relief, and they all answered the call to support in one way or the other; we could not have done it without them" said Brison.

Added CEO of Pawa Dominicana Gary Stone: "Our commitment as an airline goes far beyond moving passengers from one destination to the next. We have humbly taken the responsibility of bringing much needed assistance to the people especially of the broad community of St. Maarten in which PAWA Dominicana has a presence during our normal operations. This is purely a humanitarian effort, one that we decided to undertake despite the Princess Juliana International Airport has not started commercial operations as yet, ” said Gary Stone, President and CEO of the airline.

Chief of Staff for the Minister of Tourism Cecil Nicholas spearheaded the call to many local bus drivers, taxi drivers and truckers to move the supplies from the airport and into the districts. Nicholas explained that Team Relief employed a policy of moving the relief supplies "from the airplane directly into the districts". Furthermore, the team created the hashtag #teamreliefsxm for users of social media to indicate where and who needed assistance. That hashtag was used more than 5,000 times on social media.

Elvis Queeley, one of the truck drivers that transported the supplies added: “"When we got the call to help not one of us hesitated. I for one with the little gas I had in my truck drove down to the airport and started loading. We had people in our Whatsapp group telling us exactly where the places of need were based on the hashtags they were reading, so we just had to load, drive and hand out. A great effort overall, dozens of volunteers, and thousands of lives touched."

“We wasted little time in doing what we had to in ensuring that our airline partners not only moved people out of St. Maarten, but brought much needed supplies as well. Both St. Maarten and the airlines enjoy great partnerships when times are good. The airlines were more than willing to give back and do their part by organizing relief movements on their end. We are grateful for their effort and that of all of the volunteers of TEATT Team Relief SXM,” Brison said.

It should be noted that the amounts mentioned does not include the supplies brought to the island by the military and KLM, but solely indicates what was delivered by the commercial airlines that TEATT organized.

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