Soualiga News Today


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Soualiga News Today (4076)

Cabinet PR Officers, DCOMM Staff and Police PRO Complete Media Workshop

LITTLE BAY, Sint Maarten - On May 15 – 16, 2014, the Workshop Media Training for government public relations (PR) officers took place at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort. The workshop was attended by PR-officers from the Tourism Office, press officers of the Ministers’ Cabinet, communication specialists of the Department of Communications (DCOMM) and the spokesperson of the Police Force St. Maarten. The Workshop was facilitated by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which is associated with the renowned Reuters Press Bureau. Trainer Lisa Anne Essex, originally from Great Britain, came from the United States of America to give the course.

Lisa Anne Essex has extensive experience as a journalist and media consultant. Recent courses given by Essex include Oil and Gas reporting in Iraq, Political Reporting in Nepal, International Newswriting in Bangladesh, Investigative Journalism in Ukraine, Good Governance and Anti-corruption in Turks and Caicos. Essex’s clients included Reuters Foundation, UNDP (United Nations Development Program), The World Bank, The Financial Times, and the European Journalism Centre.

The workshop, which was funded by USONA and organized by the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, was intended to increase the understanding of the PR-officers and the communication specialists regarding the different roles of journalists and PR-officers. As well as increase the confidence of the trainees to deal with everything from everyday press releases to crisis communications.

The training modules were designed with communications professionals in mind, to ensure that they are providing the tools necessary for journalists to do their jobs. The relationship between journalists and PR-officers can be a challenging one, mainly because neither has a good understanding of the others’ roles. For this purpose an additional session was planned Friday evening to which local journalists were invited to openly discuss these differences.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Dennis Richardson, was present Friday afternoon to hand out the certificates to the workshop participants.


Dutch Military Top Calls on Minister Dennis Richardson

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – On Tuesday May 20, 2014, a courtesy visit was paid to the Minister of Justice the Honorable Dennis Richardson by the incoming Commander Hans Lodder as Commander of the Netherlands Forces in the Caribbean and Director of the Coastguard; he was introduced to the Minster by the outgoing General Swijgman. 


Port St. Maarten officials return from CSA Executive Committee Meeting

POINT BLANCHE, St. Maarten – Port St. Maarten – A delegation from Port St. Maarten recently attended the 13th Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference (CSEC) that was held Miami, Florida.

The conference was hosted this year in collaboration with the Port of Miami at the Marriott Biscayne Bay.  It brought together shipping industry executives from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe to discuss key issues affecting the industry.   

High on the agenda was an update on the Panama Canal, which has recently been embroiled in disputes over funding and delays.  An agreement is to be signed soon that would allow for construction to restart and the new date for the completion of the expansion is January 2016.

The Panama Canal connects 144 trade routes.  The main users are USA, China, Chile, Japan, Colombia and South Korea.  The canal contributes to the lowering of costs of transportation of goods as well as delivery time of products.  If the canal did not exist, cargo vessels would have to navigate around the South of Chile and vice versa which would mean considerable higher costs for international trade. 

Additional topics discussed included the new marine gas era, securing ports impact of International Ship and Port Facility Security/Maritime Transportation Security Act on shipping companies as well as a cruise industry update.

Port St. Maarten officials also listened keenly to a presentation about trends and developments related to power solutions for ships plying the oceans of the world as well as trends in the energy markets.  Wartsila did a presentation about ‘New Marine Era for Gas.’  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is seen as the gas of the future.

Alfredo Di Palma, Chief Commercial Officer of Maersk/Sealand, gave a presentation on his company’s plans for the Caribbean.  Sealand is expected to start its Caribbean operations in January 2015.

Another topic was how maritime domain awareness affects ports and shipping, by William Lusk.  Lusk emphasized on the involvement of non-traditional stakeholders as Port security is everybody’s responsibility and others such as fishermen, boaters and environmental groups should be brought together in a consultation forum to provide their input.

Other topics ranged from the benefits of advanced level training in the maritime industry; an overview of marine sector insurance and a presentation by the Port of Miami, Juan M. Kuryla, port director under the theme, ‘Looking at The Caribbean as Latin America and the Caribbean make up Port of Miami Largest Trade Region.’  The Americas and the Caribbean make up 54.3 per cent of trade and Asia-Pacific 34.8 per cent.

Kuryla emphasized that the key to their port success is that partnership is key not only with various port departments, but also with lines and their respective agents.

Port St. Maarten has a cruise ranking of number four, and this is due to the strong strategic relationships that have been built with the cruise lines and other stakeholders.  On the side of cargo, Port St. Maarten management continues with its endeavours of becoming a top transhipment operation in the North Eastern Caribbean.

President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige made a presentation entitled, ‘The Cruise Industry: Know the Benefits in Order to Appreciate and Seize the Benefits.’  Paige was very adamant that ports needed to put the WOW factor back into cruise destinations and officials needed to create more AWESOME experience tours, and cruises go where passengers want to go.

During her presentation, Paige referred to St. Maarten several times pointing out the manner in which the destination was able to keep on top for both cruise passengers and crew.    

Port St. Maarten delegation comprised of Supervisory Board members Humphrey Mezas, Chairman of the Board, Renald Williams, board member, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo, Roger Lawrence, Manager Terminal and Cargo Operations, Hector Peters, General and Governmental Affairs, and Phil Laplace, St. Maarten Harbour Shipping Consultant.

PHOTO CUTLINE:  L to R, Hector Peters, Mark Mingo, Grantley Stephenson, President of the CSA, Humphrey Mezas, Renald Williams, and Roger Lawrence.


Union Farm Road Leading to 911 Houses Traffic Interruption up to May 26

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), hereby announces that work started on May 20 on Union Farm Road, the road leading to the 911 houses, and this will lead to traffic disruptions until May 26.

Road works will be carried out from 8.00am to 7.00pm. 

Motorists and pedestrians are requested to be vigilant and observant for the traffic directional signs indicating what works are underway in the respective area.

There will be various types of heavy equipment on the road during the road repairs in the aforementioned area.  Hot asphalt will be used with respect to the infrastructure works.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.


Minister Lourens says her prayers are with the nine-year old school girl

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens Philip says the nine-year old school girl who was assaulted allegedly by a mentally ill man is in her prayers.

“It was very disturbing to learn what transpired last week Thursday.  The incident must not be allowed to happen again.  This matter needs to be addressed promptly and preventative interventions taken.

“This nine-year old was lucky, next time it could be someone else who loses their life.  My prayers and thoughts are with the young lady and her family and I wish her a speedy recovery,” Minister of Education Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip said on Tuesday.


Minister Voges presents annual report to Prime Minister

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams received the Minister Plenipotentiary the Honorable Mathias Voges at her Cabinet on Monday afternoon. During the meeting the Prime Minister was updated on the activities of the Minister Plenipotentiary and was presented with the annual report including the facts and figures  of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary.

The Minister Plenipotentiary of country St. Maarten in The Hague, Mr. Mathias S. Voges, is the representative of the St. Maarten Government in the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom consists of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the autonomous countries Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the Ministers of the Dutch government.


St. Maarten Cable TV and Internet Services Off the Air on Wednesday

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – St. Maarten Cable TV announces that Cable TV and Internet services are scheduled to be off the air on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. This brief interruption is due to an upgrade of St. Maarten Cable TV and CableNet’s electrical system and will affect all St. Maarten Cable TV and CableNet subscribers.

Managing Director, Beulah Jonis stated, “This service interruption has been scheduled during the aforementioned hours as a means of minimizing any inconvenience to our subscribers. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused as we continue to maintain and upgrade our equipment to provide optimum service to our customers.”

Customers are encouraged to visit St. Maarten Cable TV’s Facebook page and the new website for additional information and other pertinent facts. The website address is


Middle East MERS-CoV: persons traveling requested to be alert and take health precautions

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is advising persons planning to travel to the Middle East to take a number of health precautions and to be alert.

The advice is given in keeping with International Health Regulations (IHR) in connection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which is a serious respiratory illness of unknown cause affecting people, in that region.

The National IHR Focal Point for the Netherlands notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about two laboratory confirmed cases there of the MERS-CoV infection.  Cases have also been detected in the United States of America.

Travelers to this area who have a pre-existing major medical condition such as chronic diseases (diabetes or chronic bronchitis, immunodeficiency) should be aware that these conditions can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including MERS-CoV infection, during travel.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).  Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases, however the NCoV itself has not yet been found in an animal.

Travellers can take the following steps as a precautionary measure: • wash hands often with soap and water. When hands are not visibly dirty, a hand rub can be used;

• adhere to good food safety practices, such as avoiding undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and properly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them;

• maintain good personal hygiene;

• and avoid unnecessary contact with farm, domestic, and wild animals.

Travelers who return with symptoms from areas affected by the virus should call their family physician immediately. This is in connection with the Minister of Public Health’s ‘Get Checked’ campaign in order to protect public health.

Globally, 614 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection have been officially reported to WHO, including 181 deaths.


Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams Appointed as Caribbean OCT Regional Authorizing Officer

MONTSERRAT-SINT MAARTEN - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams has been nominated as the Caribbean Regional Authorizing Officer for the Dutch and British Caribbean Overseas Country’s and Territories of the European Union (COCT) during the COTC conference held in Little Bay Montserrat last week.

This role for the Prime Minister as regional authorizing officer means that coordination of the Caribbean-wide project that will be approved from the points discussed at the meeting will be done by St. Maarten through 2020.

The points discussed during the two-day conference included items such as the updating of the OCTs on the status of Small and Medium Enterprise program remaining from 10th EDF, to select the sectors for submission for regional cooperation within the 11th EDF, to select countries to work on the proposals for the selected sectors, to select the Regional Authorizing Officer for this programming period and to commit to cooperate with other EU partners in the region namely the ACP and Overseas Regions of Europe.

As a result of the meeting the Caribbean Wide Project concerning Small and Medium Enterprise program is currently in full swing with the first steering committee meeting and stakeholder forum to be held in the British Virgin Islands on the 2nd of June, 2014

Various sectors for regional cooperation were also discussed including the biodiversity and climate change envelope focusing on renewable energy and waste management, the regional envelope on Tourism which will be steered by St. Maarten and the Health envelope which will be steered by the British Virgin Islands.

With Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams being nominated regionally as the Regional Authorizing Officer for the Dutch and British Caribbean OCT's the coordination of the project that will be approved from the above mentioned options will be done by St. Maarten through 2020

In connection with the commitment to cooperate with all regional partners, St. Maarten is now preparing to sign a letter of intent of cooperation with St. Martin for a European funded infrastructural development project accessed through the French.

There will be a press conference on the ongoing developments with regards to St. Maarten’s Role in the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union on Monday, May 18th 2014 at eleven am at the AC Wathey Legislative Hall.


UP family shocked at assault on nine-year old, calls for more mental health care resources

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten -- The United People's Party (UP) family was shocked after seeing the newspaper photo of a nine-year old school girl on Friday who was brutally assaulted last Thursday morning.

The UP family also condems the senseless murder of a young business on the North side of the island, and expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends and business colleagues.

It is alleged that the perpetrator suffers from a mental disorder.  The Sint Maarten community is very aware of people walking around in our districts who suffer from some form of mental illness/disorder.

Mental health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.  It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders.

The UP family feels that more resources have to be provided to tackle cases of mental illness and persons in the community with mental disorders, adding that for the national budget of 2015, additional financial resources should be allocated to the Ministry of Public Health budget/Mental Health Foundation.

The UP family extends its prayers and get well wishes to the nine-year old school girl as well as her family during this difficult period.

The UP family fully believes in the premise that mental health is an integral part of health, and that indeed, there is no health without mental health.

The UP party believes this issue is nonpartisan and remains committed to any call to remedy such medical or social ills in our community.

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