News 2 (2)
Menu

Soualiga News II (4033)

Be Prepared for a Busy Hurricane Season. Food wholesalers and warehouse depots requested to be storm ready

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) said on Thursday that Food wholesalers and warehouse depots are requested to have their facilities storm/hurricane ready and to review their plans of action for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

Operators and owners of the aforementioned should be prepared to secure their properties in the event of a storm/hurricane threat. Key weather forecasters have already indicated that the 2021 season will be a busy one which has already seen five named storms form to date.

National Disaster Coordinator/Fire Chief Clive Richardson is appealing to the business community to use the time now to prepare or review their current pre-storm/hurricane plans and contingency plans.

Every effort must be made to be prepared and to take timely action in clearing the surroundings of storage areas of loose pallets and other materials in the event of a weather-related threat to the country.

Every business has a role to play in being storm ready for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.

Materials such as plywood, shipping pallets, food pallets, and pieces of metal used to secure pallet shipments, can easily become flying missiles capable of impaling brick or wooden walls, zinc roofs or anything in its way.

It is the responsibility of the business owner to have plans in place to remove any materials and/or have them properly secured on the property where their business is located within a short period of time in the event of a storm/hurricane threat to the country.

Business owners and households are strongly advised to review their hurricane preparation plans and to adjust and address any weaknesses in those plans because you have the time now to do so before the peak period the season begins mid-August.

The primary objective is the protection of people first and foremost, property and surrounding residential areas second.

When a tropical storm or hurricane watch is issued 48-hours before a system is forecasted to hit the country, businesses should activate their business resilience hurricane preparedness plans – take action.

For general information about preparing prior to a storm/hurricane strike, visit the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org/hurricane where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.”

Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com or visit their social media page Facebook.com/sxmweather/

Remember, be prepared and storm ready!

Read more...

Olga Mussington-Service to Lead BPW Concordia SXM

SAINT-MARTIN (MARIGOT) - On Saturday, June 26th, 2021, BPW Concordia SXM held its first virtual installation ceremony, following the club officer elections on June 19th 2021. The event, which was officiated by Mrs. Dawn Williams Regional Coordinator for North America and the Caribbean, gathered members, friends and family to witness the proceedings as the new electees pledged their commitment to their respective new leadership roles for the next biennial.

Installed officers were:

  • President: Olga Mussington-Service, M.S.
  • VP Membership: Kathia Magdeleine
  • Secretary: Catherine Magdeleine
  • Treasurer: Altagracia Emelinda Lake

BPW Concordia SXM is an affiliate of the International Federation of Business & Professional (IFBPW). The elected executives will therefore be adopting the new BPW International theme for 2021-2024, which is “New Actions through Cooperation”, as part of their mission. The club President is also a member of the BPW International Board.

BPW Concordia SXM was chartered in 2017 and caters to the Dutch and French Sides of the island. The organization remains resilient despite local and global challenges.   “With new leadership comes new ideas and innovation. I believe that our members made the right choice by electing Mrs. Olga Mussington-Service who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the organization”, says outgoing President Kathia Magdeleine.

Mrs. Olga Mussington-Service is a Therapist who holds a Masters degree from Alabama State University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude (the highest honors). She is a trainer, youth worker, certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and certified Mindfulness Life Coach. She also possesses a diploma in Professional PTSD Counseling and is the founder/chair of the Caribbean Well-Being Conference. She is currently the Manager of the Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth & Sport.

BPW is an international non-profit women’s empowerment organization that helps women through networking and skill building. For more information, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Read more...

STATIA SUSPENDS ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG AT THE AIRPORT

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Pubic Entity St. Eustatius fully understands and respects the concerns of a group of residents in Statia and abroad about the recent excavations at the Golden Rock Plantation by SECAR (St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research).

Therefore, the Government Commissioners have decided to suspend the airport dig and appoint a commission of independent Caribbean regional experts in the areas of history, archaeology and anthropology. The purpose is to look for viable solutions that can be supported by all stakeholders. 

The Public Entity has neither the experience nor the expertise to deal with a project with such a significant cultural impact. The Government has therefore decided to appoint the Statia Heritage Research Commission (SHRC) to assist the Government Commissioners Alida Francis and Claudia Toet in the decision making process.

The names of the independent members of SHRC will be announced next week. The intention is take urgent action on this important matter and to include transparent discussion meetings with community members and other stakeholders.

SHRC will facilitate and advise the Government Commissioners in regards to the airport archaeological excavations and the human remains recovered. This group of experts will also play a crucial role in the re-evaluation of the current heritage legislation, in community outreach policies and will indicate how to approach future discoveries of burial grounds and other archaeological findings.

One of the first objectives of the SHRC is to implement a community-based discussion on this sensitive heritage issue in an atmosphere of mutual respect for all opinions. SHRC advises will also include opinions based on the community discussions regarding approaches to the re-burial of the human remains, a potential memorial, etc.

The Government Commissioners will also seek the advice of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations on the way forward.

Burial ground revealed

In September 2020, the local government tasked the St. Eustatius Center for Archaeological Research (SECAR) with performing test trenches in a high archaeological expectancy area. This was necessary because the earth and sand in that area were to be used for various road projects on St. Eustatius.

It was during such a survey, that the enslaved African burial ground was discovered near the airport.

Whenever an area which is to be excavated has the potential to contain heritage artifacts, which are of archaeological value, both SECAR and the Public Entity work together to properly document and research that area. This was also the case at the initial research of the airport site. The aim is to ensure that valuable historical evidence is not destroyed but rather preserved and investigated for its contribution to Statian Heritage.

Indeed, modern multi-disciplinary archaeological research adds volumes of new information, far beyond written history, to our understanding of life-histories of the Statian people. From the survey evidence a burial ground was identified and burial excavations conducted with the multi-disciplinary research of these remains offering a vast new insight into the details of life for the enslaved African ancestors of Statia. 

Human remains

The archaeological excavation at the airport was suspended on June 15, 2021. This means that since a month there have been no more activities by SECAR at the airport site with no restart expected in the near future, pending the discussions with commission and community discussions.

It is the full intention of the Government Commissioners that the human remains excavated at the Golden Rock site will remain in a respectful, safe keeping place on Statia, for specific osteological analyses until subsequent re-burial in a timely manner takes place. And including a precise plan of action with community engagement. Decisions on these matters will be taken in a joint effort with the SHCR. (Statia GIS)

Read more...

VMT secures new shipment of Pfizer vaccine. Almost 800 Vaccinated in Two Days

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – At the Festival Village on Friday, July 9th, and Sucker Garden on Saturday, July 10th, combined, 783 persons got vaccinated, of which 630 persons came for their first dose. After this great turnout at the last two vaccination popups, the Vaccine Management Team (VMT) decided to extend the possibility of getting the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

At both vaccination Popups, it was understood that many persons on the island are willing to get vaccinated but have not done so because of previous doubts or inconveniences.

It is in the best interest of everyone on Sint Maarten to get as many persons as possible in the country protected against the COVID-19 virus. This is even more important now that the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus (which is twice as contagious as the Alpha/British variant) has now also been detected on Sint Maarten.

The VMT also understood that the next batch of COVID-19 vaccines coming from the Netherlands will again consist of the Pfizer vaccine. Therefore, the VMT decided to continue to offer the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to all residents of Sin Maarten 12 years and older.

This means that if you come for your first dose in the next three weeks, you will receive your second dose of the Pfizer vaccine in August. As the vaccination campaign transitions into the maintenance phase in August, the Collective Prevention Service (CPS) will be the only location to offer vaccinations, and only on specific days.

If you come in for your first dose in the next three weeks, you will receive an appointment card that indicates your appointment's time and date for your second dose at the CPS in August.

This week, you can walk in for your first or second dose at CPS at the Vineyard Office Park from Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM. A

Caribbean Cinemas in Cole Bay is open on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The VMT also advises the public to be on the lookout for possible other vaccination popups in the different communities.

The Pfizer vaccine, which is available to all residents of Sint Maarten, will reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19 by 95%. The vaccine is not a cure but a layer of protection, and in the slight chance (5%) that you do get it, this layer protects you against the severe and possibly deadly symptoms of the virus. The Pfizer vaccine also reduces the chance of spreading the virus, so other people don't die.

The Pfizer vaccine is the best vaccine on the market and is available to residents for free. We know you can be scared or worried because there is a lot of fake news out there, but please be assured that 99.9% of the world's medical experts and scientists encourage everyone to get vaccinated. On Sint Maarten, 42,376 vaccines were safely administered without any unexpected side effects or consequences.

Taking the vaccine will always be a personal decision, however, every decision has consequences, and if you would decide not to get vaccinated, you are putting yourself, your loved ones, and your country at risk and prevent us from getting back to our normal way of living.

The reality is that the world around us is changing in a way that we cannot stop. This means that it is likely that you'll need to be fully vaccinated if you wish to travel, attend events, apply for certain jobs, or celebrate carnival because it is the only way we can safely resume our normal way of life.

Please do your part and get vaccinated as soon as possible at CPS at the Vineyard Office Park from Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM, or at Caribbean Cinemas in Cole Bay on Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Sint Maarten Protected Together.

Read more...

Saba delegation presents issues of importance to Dutch Parliament

THE HAGUE/SABA—Commissioner Bruce Zagers and Island Secretary Tim Muller during their visit to the Netherlands met with Members of the First and Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament. Issues of importance to Saba including the free allowance, poverty, connectivity, banking and infrastructure were discussed.

Even though the meetings at the various ministries were the focal point of the visit, Zagers and Muller found it important to meet with the First and Second Chamber on Tuesday, July 6. In the morning hours, Zagers and Muller met with several members of the First Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations KOREL, and in the afternoon, they met with Member of the Second Chamber and a member of the Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations Jorien Wuite. Present at the meeting in the First Chamber were Senators Paul Rosenmöller (chairman), Jeroen Recourt, Boris Dittrich, Arda Gerkens and Eric van der Burg.

Commissioner Zagers said both meeting went very well. “The Members expressed genuine concern and support for Saba’s issues. They showed understanding and asked many questions. It is important to champion Saba’s cause in Parliament, to share information consistently so we have their attention,” he said. Saba’s Island Council already met with the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations and a number of individual Members of Parliament (MPs) last month.

Free allowance

The free allowance and the urgent need to raise this yearly amount in order for the Saba Government to be able to cover its operational costs was a major topic in the meetings. Zagers pointed out that while there seemed to be some momentum now to finally increase the free allowance, things seemingly depended on the formation of a new Dutch Government.

Zagers explained that increasing of the free allowance was cardinal since the burden of the local tasks for the Saba Government has significantly increased, also because of incidental project funding which has created structural obligations. “The Public Entity Saba has been forced to neglect or reduce the quality of its services for many of its legal obligations due to these financial constraints. It will not be possible to present a balanced budget for 2022 without having to further sacrifice the quality of services provided.”

Poverty

Another important subject for Saba is the eradication of poverty. The poverty discussion has been ongoing since even before Saba became a Public Entity in 2010. “Some progress has been made but it goes too slow. Implementing a social minimum doesn’t seem to be a goal that is broadly supported in the Netherlands, but it is crucial for the islands. Many people currently live below the poverty line and are forced to work multiple jobs and in some case well after retirement age just to be able to cover rent, basic utilities and food,” said Zagers.

Initiatives that were started during the pandemic, such as subsidies on electricity and internet, will expire at the end of 2021. Zagers said that Saba wanted to have a broad approach where not only a social minimum was established, but that there was also attention for the prices of electricity, telecom, water and transport.

RCN

Zagers was critical of the many unfair discrepancies between the Public Entity Saba and the Caribbean Netherlands Central Government Organization (RCN). According to him, the RCN operates at a “superior level of government” and does not face the same financial constraints as the Public Entity. “This disparity between how the two governments operate is alarming and creates significant attention.”

Zagers gave a number of examples. RCN can afford to send several workers from Bonaire to Saba and Statia to install new furniture whereas the Public Entity Saba can’t afford to buy furniture.

RCN employees are placed on ministry-level scales whereas local government workers are in municipal level scales. “There is a significant difference in not only the value of the scales but also the ranking of positions. RCN workers who work in the Caribbean get paid significantly more than someone who works for the Public Entity in a similar position.”

Winair

The Commissioner noted that the RCN didn’t make use of Winair, the airline in which the Dutch Government owns 8% of the shares, to transport ZVK healthcare clients to and from St. Maarten for medical care. “Winair is struggling especially since the 2017 hurricanes and now with the pandemic.

Air connectivity to the islands needs to be greatly improved. Not only is it expensive, but it is limited. The fact that the company is struggling should be known by all ministries. However, ZVK no longer works with Winair for referrals. It would be far more practical if ZVK made use of Winair. This supports a government owned company while ensuring that connectivity to the islands improves.”

Zagers made the suggestion to link any new loan or financially assistance for Winair to a so-called Public Service Obligation (PSO) which would regulate the frequency and the affordability of the vital connectivity with Saba and St. Eustatius.

Harbor

Another subject that was discussed was the construction of the new harbor at Black Rocks and the budget deficit for this largest ever project for Saba. “As the plans for the harbor develop, we are learning more about the facilities needed, but also the costs of such a large project,” said Zagers, who pointed out that it was of utmost importance to “do it right the first time.” In his opinion, cutting costs at this time would deliver a project that is not future proof.

Banking

The banking system on Saba also came up in the meetings. Zagers noted that there was only one bank on the island which he said was not reliable and its services unavailable to persons who have no account at the bank. “There is no access to affordable loan options for individuals or businesses. There is a pilot for loan guarantees on Bonaire, but this is not available for Saba and Statia. This needs to be addressed. Most locals will never have the opportunity to buy or build a home because there are no available or affordable options.” He said that for the business community, the lack of reliable banking services was challenging for their daily operations.

Bruce Tim at First Chamber group photoCommissioner Bruce Zagers (third from left) and Island Secretary Tim Muller (left) with Members of the First Chamber Paul Rosenmöller (center), Jeroen Recourt (second from left), Arda Gerkens (right), Eric van den Burg (second from right) and Bris Dittrich (fourth from right). In the back at left, Registrar Fred Bergman and at right staff member Maarten van Rooij. (Hans Kouwenhoven/First Chamber photo)

Bruce Tim at First Chamber close up photo

Commissioner Bruce Zagers (left) and Island Secretary Tim Muller gave a presentation in the First Chamber. (Hans Kouwenhoven/First Chamber photo)

Read more...

Woman arrested for severely injuring victim with machete

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Detective arrested a woman with initials J.R. for allegedly assaulting another woman with a machete on Sunday, July 11, at about 4:30pm. 

The arrest for severe ill-treatment was made in the vicinity of Soualiga Road and executed with the permission of the prosecutor.

As a result of the attack, the victim suffered serious injuries to her forehead, hands arms and fingers. The victim required surgery at St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC).

The suspect remains in police custody pending further investigation. (KPSM)

Read more...

Port St. Maarten Pre-Storm/Hurricane Preparations for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is forecast to be an active one according to forecasters. Five named storms have already formed so far for the season.

At Port St. Maarten, a number of assessments have been carried out in connection with the season and the port’s hurricane preparedness plans. All pre-storm/hurricane plans are in place and ready to be activated in the event of a threat to the country.

Port St. Maarten would like to remind boat owners and mariners with respect to its protocols for pre-storm/hurricane preparations for the Simpson Bay and Causeway Bridges in connection with the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Port users and carriers operating out of the cargo section at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility are advised to review their hurricane season operating plans if they have not already done so, with respect to keeping equipment and containers at the port facility to a minimum and to have the necessary plans in place to secure equipment in the event of a storm/hurricane threat.

For all vessels wishing to enter/exit the Simpson Bay Lagoon, prepare well in advance to come through the bridges. Listen out on marine radio VHF Channel 12 or local radio stations, if there are any changes to or added bridge openings.

Regular Simpson Bay Bridge opening times are: 8.30AM Outbound, 9.30AM Inbound; 10.30AM Out, 11.30AM In; 15.00PM In, 16.00PM Out, 17.00PM In Regular Causeway Bridge opening times: 8.00AM, 10.00AM, 15.30PM. Bridges will not open above wind speeds of 25 knots sustained.

The Simpson Bay Lagoon should not be considered as a safe haven. Vessels wishing to enter are urged to do so in a timely manner. Commercial cargo vessels should not seek refuge in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

The best place to secure your vessel in the event of a hurricane is a boat yard or on land. Mariners are urged to make appointments with boat yards for haul out.

Vessel owners should ensure that all loose objects or potential objects are removed from the deck of the vessel and secured below (e.g., Sails, awnings, fenders etc.)

Anchored vessels are to ensure that the vessel has enough ground tackle and that it is sufficient for any expected weather conditions, and all lines have chafing gear.

Boat owners are responsible for their property and may be held liable for damages to another person’s property/livelihood.

For those requiring additional information you can Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or call VHF Channel 12 and in the event of Emergency #: +1 721 520-2059.

The remaining storm names for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season are: Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): www.meteosxm.com or visit their social media page Facebook.com/sxmweather/

Read more...

ADDITIONAL COVID RESOURCES FOR SOCIAL DOMAIN

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The Public Entity St. Eustatius, the Ministry of Health, Wellbeing and Sports (VWS), local stakeholders and teenagers have recently worked on a concrete action plan to provide additional support during the continuous COVID-19 pandemic.

The extra support will be provided in the areas of youth development, social and mental well-being, lifestyle and sport. 

The pandemic still has a huge impact on persons and organizations in the Caribbean Netherlands. That is why the Ministry of VWS in The Hague has made resources available to provide extra support.

Teenagers involved

Teenagers are actively involved by sharing their thoughts and ideas which form the basis for the total package of the additional COVID-19 support. The participating teenagers at the various social organizations and also the participants of the 'My new world' project have provided input. This group came up with innovative ideas to give the community something that will last.

A total package was created by combining all the ideas. The activities include a laser tag location, debat groups, BMX-park with workshop, bringing professional sports, drama, dance & arts teachers to the island, an inter-island exchange with Saba for Sports, and more.

Together with different stakeholders,  the teenagers will also be closely involved in the elaboration and execution in the coming period. The youngsters recently expressed their gratitude about being included in the process and conversations. (Statia GIS)

Read more...

Four families move into restored St. John’s homes

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Four very happy families received the keys to their new homes in St. John’s on Thursday, July 8, 2021. It concerns four restored social housing units of the Own Your Own Home Foundation (OYOHF) which were rebuilt after a fire.

At the time of the fire several years ago, the building consisted of two units, known as St. John’s number 3 and 4. A complete reconstruction of the houses took place in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK), the Planning Bureau of the Public Entity Saba (OLS) and the Dutch housing corporation Bazalt Wonen (formerly Woonlinie).

In the reconstruction plans it was decided to add another floor to the building in order to create two additional units, which is welcome news for the families who are on the waiting list and in need of affordable social housing.

The four families were overjoyed and even a bit emotional as they received the keys from Commissioner of Social Affairs Rolando Wilson and Maarten Koster of Bazalt Wonen together with OYOHF representative Eviton Heyliger. The OYOHF will manage the four units. The Planning Bureau of OLS did the project management.

The units on the ground floor are made of concrete and have three bedrooms each. The two units on the first floor consist of a wooden, sturdy, hurricane proof structure. These units each have two bedrooms. The homes have a new kitchen, bathroom and a magnificent view from the balcony. Each of the four units has its own cistern.

The project suffered some delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of manpower in the construction sector.

Read more...

More employers are paying expenses for working from home

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – An increasing number of employers are giving their staff expenses for working at home, according to a survey of 450 companies by employer’s advice group AWVN.

More than half of the survey’s respondents said they now made home working payments, ranging from €26 to €43 a month, compared with just 20% six months ago.

Family spending institute Nibud calculated earlier that working from home costs around €2 a day. Nevertheless, while employers are positive about working at home, two-thirds still say that the tax implications need to be properly worked out, and the AWVN is calling on the government to take action quickly.

The government has already indicated that expenses for working at home will be treated in the same way as travel expenses, and not subject to income tax, the Financieele Dagblad said.

As well as paying workers expenses to work from home, 70% of employers in the survey already have, or plan, to make changes to their travel expense systems. Three in four also pay towards a desk or chair.

In particular, employers have noticed that people who work from home are more productive, are more involved with the job and can better combine their job with their private lives, AWVN spokeswoman Anne Megens told broadcaster NOS.

‘They also spend less time in traffic jams and employers are spending less on travel expenses,’ Megens said. An added advantage is that people are willing to spend longer times traveling to work if they don’t have to do it so often. This means sectors with a shortage of staff can look further afield for new recruits.

Law

Employers are not, however, keen on having the right to work at home anchored in law, as unions and some political parties want. ‘Working at home is something between you and your employer, because it has to fit the sort of work that you do,’ Megens said.

D66 and GroenLinks are already working on legislation which would make working from home a right.

(DutchNews)

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed

Soualiga Radio