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Parliament sealed off after security incident, rucksack did not contain explosives

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Dutch parliamentary complex in The Hague was closed off for a time on Friday afternoon after a man was spotted acting suspiciously. 

The man, later said by police to be a 38-year-old from the Frisian town of Sneek, was arrested after he was heard using threatening language. 

According to RTL Nieuws journalist Frits Wester, the man said he wanted to carry out an attack and threw down a rucksack. 

The rucksack did not contain any explosives and the cordons were removed at around 2.30pm.  (DutchNews)

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Amsterdam’s bridges and canal sides need urgent repair work

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam alderman Sharon Dijksma has told the Telegraaf she is ‘shocked’ by the ‘systematic neglect‘ of the inner city’s bridges and canals. 

At least 10 kilometres of canal walls are in such bad condition there is a risk they could collapse and six bridges are in such a poor state that urgent action is being taken, the paper said. 

On Thursday Dijksma is due to present her plans to monitor and renovate hundreds of kilometres of quayside in an effort to head off any more dangerous situations. Over the past year there have been at several partial collapses. 

‘These are plans which are going to take 20 years,’ Dijksma told the paper. ‘There is a lot of catch up maintenance to be done.’ The total bill will run into hundreds of millions of euros. 

The job will be particularly tricky because many of the canal walls are built on wooden piles, hammered into the ground. ‘The city was made for horse transport, not the enormous volume of motorised traffic there is today,’ Dijksma said. ‘We have to take steps to guarantee public safety.’(DutchNews)

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Police in The Hague hunt ‘alternative type’ who stabbed two people

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police in The Hague are appealing for witnesses after a tall man with a strong English accent attacked two people at random with a knife. 

The first victim was a 17-year-old youth who was stabbed in the arm after trying to stop the suspect sticking a knife in his bicycle tyre. The youth was able to call the police and was taken to hospital for treatment. 

The second incident took place around 7.30pm, 15 minutes after the first. In that instance a jogger was stabbed several times while out running. He went to hospital which then alerted the police. 

Police have issued a description of the man they want to interview. He is described as tall and an ‘alternative type’ wearing dark clothes, three-quarter length trousers and big boots. He is also said to be in his late 20s and to have a strong English accent. (DutchNews)

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ING money laundering deal hits net profit in ‘year of challenges’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Scandal-hit financial services group ING booked net profit of €4.7bn in 2018, despite paying €770m to settle a court case and the row over chief executive pay. 

Although net profit was down 4.1% on 2017, the underlying pre-tax result is up 4.5%, the bank said in a statement on Wednesday. ‘This past year has been filled with both achievements to be proud of and challenges to overcome and learn from, CEO Ralph Hamers said in the statement. 

‘The organisation continues to work hard on enhancing our customer due diligence files and on a number of structural solutions to bring our anti-money laundering activities to a sustainably better level.’ 

In March ING’s supervisory board withdrew the proposed 50% pay rise for Hamers, saying it had ‘underestimated the public response in the Netherlands on this clearly sensitive matter’. 

Hundreds of customers are thought to have closed their accounts in protest at the pay rise and the proposal to increase Hamer’s pay to €3m was condemned as ‘arrogant’ and ‘out of touch’ by politicians across the political spectrum. 

ING took a second hit in September when the public prosecution department said it had reached a €775m out of court settlement with ING for failing to properly monitor money transfers for potential money laundering.(DutchNews)

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Record cocaine seizures at Rotterdam port, total tips 19 tonnes

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police and customs officials found a record 19 tonnes of cocaine hidden in shipments at Rotterdam port last year, the public prosecution department said. 

In total,18,947 kilos of cocaine were discovered in 109 separate deliveries. This is three times the amount of the drug found in 2017. One of the most notable seizures was that of 1,300 kilos hidden in frozen chicken livers, the OM said. 

Another novel hiding place was the petrol tank of a Range Rover. Officials also found 3,378 kilos of hashish, 241 kilos of marijuana and 58 kilos of heroin destined for the Dutch market.(DutchNews)

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Committee of TEATT to meet about tourism, economy, transportation and telecommunication

PHILIPSBURG – The committee of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunicationwill meet in a session on February 6.

The committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 11.00 hrs. in the General Assembly Chamber of the House at Wilhelminastraat #1 in Philipsburg. The Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, and Telecommunication (TEATT) will be present for this meeting. 

The agenda points are:

  1. Confirmation of decision lists previous TEATT Committee meetings.
  1. An update from the Port St. Maarten on some crucial indicators since Irma, and projection going forward:
    1. Passengers statistics and Cruise Ship Arrivals to date, and projections going forward.
    2. Cargo imports and exports to date, and projections going forward.
    3. Marketing plans by the harbor to improve consumer perspective of St. Maarten.
    4. Where does St. Maarten rank in Cruise reviews since Irma?
    5. Tendering services and the distribution of passengers in Philipsburg.
    6. What are the major challenges being faced by the harbor?
    7. Any legislative hurdles that the members of parliament should be aware of?
    8. Other important information the harbor would like to share with legislators and the public (IS/799/2017-2018 dated July 31, 2018).
  1. Finalization of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority:
  2. A discussion by the committee after having reviewed the first concept of the law of the St. Maarten Tourism Foundation.
  3. The Minister’s plan going forward with the finalization of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority.
  1. Tourism recovery policy plan from the Ministry of TEATT

       The committee would like to hear from the minister 

       details as to what the ministry will do in the short, medium 

       and long term to promote the recovery of our tourism 

       product. A presentation on this is being requested, feedback  

       will be given, and a summary of the presentation sent to the 

       central committee (IS/801/2017-2018 dated July 31, 2018).

  1. The current state of the civil aviation authority:
  2. Current staffing and Budget, and adjustment needed in 2019 for proper functioning.
  3. Location since the previous building was destroyed by Irma.
  4. Concrete plan on how the island will get back to cat 1 FAA and prevent dropping to cat 3.
  5. Upcoming Preliminary Audit for ICAO: List of previous findings and measure to correct findings in preparation for Audit.
  6. Concerns regarding the operations of foreign carriers under local AOC’s: how is this being regulated?
  7. Revenue Generating measures by the department including fees and aircraft registration.
  8. Pending Bi-Laterals and air traffic agreements.
  1. US Pre Clearance: Clarity on reports that this may be in jeopardy due to lack of information (IS/802/2017-2018 dated July 31, 2018).
  1. Preliminary investigation into data collection by the government of St. Maarten:
  2. Labor Data Collection
  3. Economic indicators
  4. Import/Export
  5. GDP
  6. Tourism indicators
  7. Banking sector data
  8. The Minister's plans for implementation of ASACUDA Does the department of Statistics have sufficient resources and funding to carry out its tasks? (IS/803/2017-2018 dated July 31, 2018)                             

Members of the public are invited to the House of Parliament to attend parliamentary deliberations.  

The House of Parliament is located across from the Court House in Philipsburg.

The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, the audio via the Internet www.sxmparliament.orgwww.pearlfmradio.sx  and Parliament’s Facebook page: Parliament of Sint Maarten.

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Tropical Shipping Vessel Tropic Hope Signifies Confidence and Hope in Rebuilding & Recovery

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The newest addition to the Tropical Shipping fleet, Vessel Tropic Hope made its inaugural call in January at the Cargo terminal facilities at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities.

Port St. Maarten Management would like to congratulate Tropical Shipping and its local management representation on the island with the inclusion of this new vessel that will be calling at the port cargo terminal.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication TEATT the Honourable Stuart Johnson, commended Tropical Shipping for the introduction of their second vessel to the island. 

Johnson said, as Port St. Maarten sails into the future with its numbers rebounding in the Cargo Sector, the continued growth of the port relies on the continued commitment from companies such as Tropical Shipping, whose investments post-Irma “solidifies a lifelong partnership with the destination.” 

Johnson presented Tropical Shipping’s General Manager Keyla van Heyningen with a plaque of the new vessel to mark the momentous occasion. 

Johnson underscored the importance of container and breakbulk shipping to the sustainable redevelopment of St. Maarten’s economy and said it was crucial for the island's recovery process that companies such as Tropical Shipping remained committed to the destination. 

He said, “I am truly happy to extend the sincerest appreciation of the people and government of St. Maarten, to Tropical Shipping for its unwavering commitment to our destination. Much of what our people need to rebuild their homes and provide for their families depends on our ability to maintain a solid line of cargo delivery, and that is why the Cargo Facility’s repairs have been of major importance to my ministry.”

“Tropical Shipping is one of the ports strategic stakeholders and one of their key partners in the movement of cargo. The company is one of the leaders in ocean transportation and we are very proud to be associated with Tropical Shipping. 

“The name of the vessel Tropic Hope, is also symbolic to the recovery phase that the country is currently in, rebuilding after the devastation left behind by Irma, whereby the population looks towards the future with hope and confidence during the rebuilding phase,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday. 

Tropical Shipping Island Manager Keyla Van Heyningen said on Sunday: “The arrival of the Hope to our fleet of vessels means that we are committed to our customers and we are committed to island life. To our customers their cargo will arrive on a timely manner. Tropical invests in 6 new vessels to replace some of the older vessels with these bigger faster vessels will be able to arrive on the island on Sunday morning and Tuesday night.”

Tropical Shipping is the primary reefer-carrier serving the Caribbean region.  The new vessel will increase the company’s capacity for temperature-controlled cargo to the Caribbean Basin based on increased speed and efficiency of the new vessel.

“The Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facilities are the gateway or main entry of the majority of aggregates, building materials, food, dry and consumer goods needed by the islanders imported by sea. The port serves as a hub for trans-shipments to the neighbouring islands.

“The port continues to see high volume numbers as it relates to the movement of cargo and trade numbers. The investments made by the private sector demonstrates strength and confidence in the island and we expect to see projected high volumes in cargo movement for the next upcoming years. 

“Tropical Shipping continues to bring in double digit growth numbers on full imports and transshipment due to our hub port function. In addition, their provisioning numbers are reaching high volumes and they continue to be a strategic partner with the cruise lines where provisioning is concerned, increasing with double digit growth using the port as a strategic hub for provisioning of key cruise vessels.

“Port St. Maarten has a track record and a reputation of being a reliable partner with a serious and dedicated staff who have contributed to the success of cargo operational excellence therefore making us the preferred port for all major shipping carriers.

“Due to the ports quick recovery and pace of repairs after the Irma disaster, and significant cargo terminal investments that would ensure sustainability and durability, the growth experienced by the port and cargo operators is testament to the strategic business decisions taken to ensure operational excellence during a time of crisis. 

“At this time, we congratulate Tropical with its new vessels and continuous investments in reliability and dedicated service and we are proud to continue to play a part in Tropical’s success and growth in future market leadership and profitability,” Port St. Maarten Management adds.   

Tropical Shipping back in 2016 signed an order with Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard, China, for six new vessels, an investment worth close to US$150 million as part of fleet reinvestment and a commitment to the Caribbean market.  

Another new vessel entering into service is Tropic Island.  Tropic Hope is part of the Carib Class which are 160 meters long and a capacity for 1148 TEU including 270 reefer plugs, hi-cubes below deck, bow and stern thrusters, and can travel up to 20 knots; are equipped with two cranes.

The vessel will be serving ports in Canada, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Northern and Eastern Caribbean.

Tropical Shipping has grown over the past five decades to become the largest containerized cargo carrier in the Caribbean region. Tropical Shipping provides direct service to Florida, the Bahamas, and the Caribbean. Serving thousands of customers throughout this region, Tropical Shipping has a broad range of worldwide clients, whose diverse shipping needs include moving millions of tonnes of cargo throughout the global marketplace, making Tropical Shipping the carrier of choice for the Caribbean.

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TEATT/Justice to combat illegal soliciting in crucial tourist areas

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Persons who solicit business in the Philipsburg area especially on Front Street and the Boardwalk and in Pointe Blanche near the entrance to Port St. Maarten are being urged to discontinue the “illegal” practice with immediate effect. 

The “aggressive” manner in which some individuals have been reported to approach visitors, to encourage them to purchase items, or use a particular service has become a major cause for concern.  Several complaints reached the Ministry of TEATT on Friday last week regarding visitors being “harassed” prompting the Ministry to spring into immediate action.

Since then, a notice was issued by the Solicitor General for TEATT Miguel De Weever in which it states “Soliciting is prohibited by Law. He quoted Article 6 sub e of the National Decree on Public Transportation “Landsbesluit Personenvervoer” AB 2013, GT no.112 and art 5 sub 1c of the Public Street Vending Ordinance “Landsverordening Openbare Straathandel” AB 2013, GT no. 116 that identified ways in which a person can be considered to have violated the law. This includes any misconduct, intrusiveness and harassment in any form, to advertise, sell, barter, negotiate a good or service against the wishes of any person.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, & Telecommunication TEATT, the honourable Stuart Johnson, issued a statement on Sunday in which he said he is concerned about the negative image that soliciting can create for St. Maarten. Johnson said, “We cannot allow the actions of a few persons to tarnish the image of our destination. 

Tourism requires the collective involvement of all parties, and as such, I am asking everyone in our community to support the effort of the Ministry of TEATT in ensuring a hassle-free visit and vacation on St. Maarten for all of our guests.” 

Minister Johnson said he understands that "times are still difficult," as many have not yet been able to return to their normal jobs. He said even though economic activities are on the increase with positive future projections, some still find it difficult to provide for their families. However, “We must not give rise to the temptation to ignore or circumvent the law as there is a much larger picture, which is the long-term sustainability of our destination. This goal cannot be accomplished if we do not collectively ensure that we take proper care of our visitors on whom we depend for our livelihood.” 

To combat the negative image being created by soliciting and to protect the image of the destination, the Ministry of TEATT will begin working in collaboration with the Justice Department to conduct “a joint operation to deal with this persistent issue.” In this regard, the Ministry of TEATT in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice will be taking specific actions and or sanctions against those who fail to comply.

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K1 DIRECT completes CPR & First Aid Training

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - K1 Britannia Foundation recently formed and launched a Disaster Relief and Crisis Team called K1 DIRECT. Since its launch, 20 vetted volunteer members including K1 staff have been undergoing a series of trainings to properly equip themselves with the tools and expertise necessary to tackle a disaster locally or in the region. K1 DIRECT was a result of K1’s experience with disaster relief post-Irma, and the identification of needs within the first 72 hours’ post-disaster. K1 Britannia is working with St. Maarten Government Emergency Support Function 7 (ESF7) to identify three main areas in which K1 DIRECT will be committed to playing a long-term role in St. Maarten. 

Ensuring that all core members of K1 DIRECT are CPR/AED/First Aid certified is a necessary component of the holistic training due to basic preparations needed to assist in shelter management, first response, and rapid assessments to care institutions on the island.Twenty members and K1 Staff recently completed the American Heart Association’s Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED certified course given locally by the Windward Islands Emergency Medical Services (WIEMS) and are certified for the next 2 years. 

The trainings were done in sets of two full day trainings over the course of 4 months. The first day covered CPR/AED where the trainees learned how to performCPR carrying out chest compressions and rescue breaths, which differs for both infants, children and adults. They also learned how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED), which is used to help those experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. 

The second day of the training covered first aid which included first aid basics for medical emergencies that are life threatening such as choking in adults and children, heart attack, stroke and seizures. Injury emergencies were covered extensively such as how to apply direct pressure to a wound, controlling bleeding, bandaging a cut and using a tourniquet, a device for stopping the flow of blood through a vein or artery and splinting of broken bones. Lastly, trainees were also trained in environmental emergencies such as treating bites and stings. 

K1 DIRECT member Zuleima Violenus – Salmon, highlighted the importance of the training saying “I now feel more confident that I would be able to follow the important steps of assessing a situation keeping myself safe and then helping someone else in many cases.”"We are very proud that our volunteers have completed the basic training in the medical field successfully and enthusiastically. Our goal is that each one of our core members completes basic training in fields relevant to disaster relief work, the first of which was medical." Said K1 Program Manager, Iris Hakkens. 

The Heartsaver training was made possible by K1 DIRECT’s founding sponsor Carnival Cruise Line. “Carnival Cruise Line reached out to us to become a long-term partner for disaster relief. Because of its heart for those in the Caribbean region who were affected by the 2017 hurricane season, the cruise line found it imperative to play a meaningful part in not only the recovery but also preparation. We are grateful for the opportunities the sponsorship has allowed” concluded K1 Co-Founder, Priya Thirumur. For more information about K1 Britannia Foundation and K1 DIRECT, visit their website www.k1britanniafoundation.org,  send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit their Facebookwww.facebook.com/k1sxm.

Photo 2 K1 DIRECT Volunteer practice CPR during training

Photo 3 K1 DIRECT Volunteers practice CPR on infants during training

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The Committee of Civil Servants Unions submits COLA request to Government

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Committee of Civil Servants Unions (CCSU), formally known as the GOA submitted a request for Cost of Living Adjustment to the Prime Minister the Honorable Leona Romeo-Marlin on Wednesday January 30th, 2019., the CCSU said in a press statement on Thursday.

The members of the CCSU stated in their letter that Ministers and civil servants alike were required to deliver under extra-ordinary circumstances directly after the passing of hurricane Irma and Maria: “civil servants came to work every day to produce the work necessary for the day to day running of the governmental apparatus as the country found itself in a trying period, with limited capacities and resources. 

“Unfortunately, for the last six (6) years the salaries of Civil Servants have not been indexed based on the applicable Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) of 11% not including 2018”.

Taking into consideration and acknowledging that since the opening of the tourism season there are strong signs of economic improvement, with the return of major cruise lines and the reopening of pivotal commerce on the Island, it is now time to reopen the discussion of a salary adjustment.

The CCSU made two different proposals to the Prime Minister as to how the COLA could be paid out to the civil servants and made it clear that the CCSU is willing to sit with Government and together come up with a workable proposal for both parties.

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