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DCNA Holds Masterclass with Dutch MPs on Nature Conservation and the Impacts of Climate Change

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE (The Netherlands) - During ten days of official meetings, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) held a masterclass for Dutch Members of Parliament, explaining attendees the importance for supporting nature conservation in the Dutch Caribbean and putting more focus that climate change will have on the islands. 

During ten days of meetings here in the Netherlands with various stakeholders we thought it critical to address what is still a lack of knowledge for nature conservation in the biodiversity hotspot in the Dutch Kingdom; the Dutch Caribbean.

That is why one of the major initiatives we took was to organize a masterclass on Dutch Caribbean Nature Conservation, our successes and challenges, and what is required to increase the goods and services provided by Nature to the Socio-economic sustainability of the islands as we emerge into a post-pandemic reality,” commented DCNA Director Tadzio Bervoets.

During the meeting attendees were given information on the status of nature conservation on all six islands of the Dutch Caribbean, the need to include all six islands of the Dutch Caribbean in Climate Change decisions by the Kingdom Government and the need to financially support nature conservation on the islands. 

One of the most notable issues which came up during meetings, whether it was with the Ministry BZK, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Change, or with various Members of Parliament for the Netherlands, was the lack of awareness for Nature Conservation in the Dutch Caribbean and how protecting nature will ensure a sustainable financial future for the islands.

“That was why it was important to meet with the respective decision-makers, partner nature organizations and research institutions to ensure that, in the Netherlands, nature conservation, Climate Change and Protected Area Management in the Dutch Caribbean is firmly placed on the agenda. That was the main goals of what were often intense and prolonged discussions,” continued Bervoets. 

During meetings DCNA requested specifically to have the impacts of Climate Change and the impacts on the Nature, Society and Economies of the most vulnerable societies of the Kingdom, those in the Dutch Caribbean, be taken into account during the decision-making process, specifically as it relates to ongoing discussions as a part of the formation process and putting the Support for Nature of the Dutch Caribbean in future governing programs.

dcna tadzio ins1 dutch sec chamb

DCNA Director Tadzio Bervoets giving numerous presentations to Ministries, Partner Organizations, Dutch Politicians and Dutch Research Institutions on Nature Conservation and the Impacts of Climate Change in the Dutch Caribbean.

 

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Detainee dies in prison. Body confiscated to determine cause of death

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The National Detectives are investigating the death of a detainee in the holding cells in Philipsburg.

On July 22, at 9:30am, police received a notification from the personell of the house of Detention,that during a routine check a detainee in a holding cell was not showing any signs of life.

The ambulance personnel were called and attempted to administer first aid to the detainee, however it became apparent that the man was unresponsive.

Subsequently, the attending doctor pronounced the man dead. The body was confiscated on orders of the prosecutor to aid in determining the cause of death.

KPSM extends condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. (KPSM)

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MP Emmanuel questions how Ballast Nedam won airport bid with its bribery settlement

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In response to the news that Ballast Nedam has been awarded the contract for the airport reconstruction project, Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel has again questioned how Dutch firms with a criminal history continue to secure contracts on St. Maarten.

It is not the first time the MP has raised these concerns. Earlier this year he pointed out that Windward Roads, despite its guilty verdict in the Larimar investigation and defrauding the country, is still somehow managing to secure contracts from the government of St. Maarten, with the only penalty being a fine which the company is using to construct a small sewage system.

In the past he also questioned Ballast Nedam’s role in the roof repair at the airport. “Now we have the same company with shady history of bribing government officials being awarded another major contract on St. Maarten. The measuring stick seems to be very different for St. Maarten when it comes to Dutch companies as compared to local individuals and companies,” the MP said.

Ballast Nedam was investigated in the Netherlands for paying almost thirty million euros in bribes to government officials in Suriname and Saudi Arabia. The bribes to the tune of 17.5 million euros would have been written off as general project costs. Through legal procedures, the case was settled out of court.

Emmanuel said the fact that Ballast Nedam secured the airport contract at a time when the Dutch government and the Schiphol Group, supported by the local government places significant focus on good corporate governance is very noteworthy and in contradiction to the World Bank’s anti-corruption guidelines and sanctions framework.

These guidelines were outlined in the tender documents for the airport project as a letter of acceptance by all bidding companies. In part, the guidelines focuses and fraud and corruption which the World Bank breaks down as corrupt, fraudulent, collusive, coercive and obstructive practices. Breach of these guidelines could include a public declaration of ineligibility to be awarded or otherwise benefit from a bank-financed project.

The MP questioned if Ballast Nedam’s history was held against these standards in the tendering process, how could the company be awarded the reconstruction project and made to act as if its questionable history does not exist.

“Everyone wants to see the airport back up and running. But such actions continue to defeat the purpose that State Secretary Knops and the local government try to build their arguments on to gain a foothold at the airport. False purpose is always exposed when the truth comes out. You cannot preach integer corporate actions and good corporate governance but accept a company that settled million-dollar bribery charges,” MP Emmanuel said.

“Local companies, local people and St. Maarten as a country have been called all sorts of disparaging names for un-proven suspicions of wrong-doing. But in the case of these Dutch companies, you simply have to commit to construct sewage and it is business as usual. So allow me to use the same premise Knops builds his defending arguments on: In the name of good corporate governance, please provide an explanation how Ballast Nedam was cleared for the bidding process considering their criminally suspicious past and bribery settlement,” the MP concluded.

Letter of acceptance mp emman

 

 

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SXMNBA PRESENTS - SABA BASKETBALL CLINIC 2021

SINT MAARTEN/SABA - The St. Maarten National Basketball Association (SXMNBA) received a request from the Public Health Department of Saba, for 2 coaches who will be able to give a week-long basketball clinic for the boys and girls ages 9-18 of Saba. The two coaches that were selected to go, based on availability and that were fully vaccinated were Alex Ferdinand (President of the SXMNBA) and Herbert "Prince" Martina (Public Relation Officer for the SXMNBA). The delegation left St. Maarten on Sunday July 11th and was joined by the St. Eustatius swimming delegation. 

The very first day of the basketball clinic was used for introduction, orientation, and to basically see what skill level the players were on. The first challenge was to tweak the program to accommodate these players who had basketball competition experience and balance it out for the others who recently started the game. 25 participants take part, with the clinic starting 2PM to 5PM every day. The goal was not only to go through physical drills with the young players, but also teach them the mental aspects of the game; instilling values while learning the game, time management, being punctual, team spirit, positive attitude and the love for the process of practicing was some of the things discussed. 

Day 2 the SXMNBA coaches focused on passing and went throw various passing drills. They also focused on the correct way to shoot and stand when at the free throw line. Day 3 was dedicated to layup and using both hands as it pertains to offense, the young men and women were given a treat. they could finally play a pickup match in which they showed off their individual skills. Day 4 was more focused on defense, and Day 5 was the player performance evaluation. Each player had a player performance evaluation in which information such as: Name, Date of Birth, Height, Weight, a digital picture. The evaluation sheet denotes a grading system from 1 to 5 whereas 5 being outstanding: the criteria’s included shooting, dribbling, passing, defense, rebounding, athletic ability, game play, coachability and overall strengths. 

"It was a pleasure taking part in this Basketball clinic. It is truly an honor to be part of the shaping and molding of some fine players all be it for a week. however, we look forward to a return to Saba. It is our firm opinion that There isn’t enough talent in the world that can't be improved through constant practice. Saba needs to recognize the talent they have in some of these players, but they need proper coaching and guidance in order to make a regional impact when it pertains to basketball, said Herbert "Prince" Martina (Public Relation Officer for the SXMNBA)

The SXMNBA would like to express appreciation and gratitude to the Public Health Department of Saba and its organizers Joelyn Robinson and Lauren Risley for their hospitality, also express thanks to the caterer Aggies Bakery & Creations for the healthy and tasty meals. Thank you to the parents of the kids for allowing them to take part in this basketball clinic, and of course to the kids themselves for being so coachable. And a special thanks to Guardian Group Fatum for supplying reversible uniforms that were used in the clinic. “Saba, we love you and see you next time” said Alex Ferdinand (President of the SXMNBA).

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Armed robbery suspect arrested in Cay Hill

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - A wanted armed robbery suspect was arrested by Police in Cay Hill on Monday afternoon at around 5:00pm, KPSM said on Wednesday in a press statement.

Police Central Dispatch received a call that the suspect with initials I.C.S. for whom an arrest warrant had been issued, was spotted in the vicinity of A. Th. Illidge Road. The suspect was sought for his possible involvement in several robberies committed earlier this year at several businesses.

The suspect was spotted a short time later by the police patrols in Cay Hill and was subsequently stopped and arrested. He is being held for further questioning at the Philipsburg Police Station. This investigation is ongoing. (KPSM)

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CPS Reminds Community to Step Up and maintain COVID-19 Public Health Safety Measures

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Prevention Service (CPS) a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), is making an urgent appeal to the public of Sint Maarten, to maintain COVID-19 Public Health Preventive measures such as correctly wearing of face masks, maintaining social distance, and frequently sanitizing your hands.

This appeal is being made due to the Delta COVID-19 variant, which is now circulating in countries that enhance our economy. This variant is more contagious spreading quickly than any other variant.

Therefore, CPS is urging and reminding everyone to continue practicing the public health safety measures that were put in place.

According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Americas has reported nearly 74 million COVID-19 cases and 1.9 million deaths – more than a third of COVID cases and more than 40 per cent of deaths reported globally. Sint Maarten has registered 2,677 confirmed cases and 34 deaths as of July 19th.

CPS would like to reiterate to the persons currently in quarantine and in isolation, the importance of adhering to the guidelines as issued by CPS.

Adherence to the guidelines will protect the community overall especially those who are not vaccinated, the most vulnerable such as seniors and those with underlying health conditions. This measure can also contribute to minimizing the number of COVID-19 cases.

Staying indoors and at home during your isolation and/or quarantine period means that you are not to go to the doctor (unless in an emergency), the bank, the stores, or the supermarket. Seek assistance from your close circle for the time you are in quarantine or isolation.

CPS is also encouraging persons to get vaccinated. For the month of July, persons can still walk-in to either Belair Community Center or CPS at the Vineyard Office Park to receive their first and second doses of Pfizer.

Your compliance with the prescribed measures can protect your family, friends, and colleagues, leading to less anxiety, and collectively contributing to a healthier and safer Sint Maarten during this pandemic.

Wear your mask. Keep your Distance. Wash your hands.  Get Vaccinated.

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Nature Foundation Confirms Successful Sea Turtle Nesting on Dawn Beach

SINT MAARTEN (DAWN BEACH) - Last week the Nature Foundation confirmed the successful nesting of a hawksbill sea turtle on Dawn Beach. After receiving a call from the security team from the Westin Hotel, foundation staff rushed to the scene and were able to confirm the hawksbill sea turtle laid several eggs in a shallow nest. While this is not the first sea turtle nesting activity on St. Maarten this year, it is the first that has been confirmed to be successfully laid on the Dutch side beaches for the season

“We were very happy to see that this hawkbill sea turtle has been able to lay at least one clutch of eggs on Dawn Beach last week, as nesting numbers are dropping. We are very grateful that the security of the Westin Hotel was very cooperative and reached out to us quickly, in order for us to monitor the nesting activity and to ensure it remains safe until the eggs are ready to hatch. Sea turtles are a protected and critically endangered species, monitoring their nesting activity is crucial and the Nature Foundation is the designated authority to report any sea turtle nesting activity to” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern Manager of the Nature Foundation St. Maarten. 

Foundation staff clearly marked the nest to ensure that it can remain undisturbed. All beach visitors are requested to stay out of the marked area to prevent damages to the eggs. Sea turtles and their nests are protected by St. Maarten law and disturbing them may result in prosecution. Eggs can be laid in a shallow nest and close to the surface of the sand. It is essential to prohibit any beach umbrellas being placed in the area which may pierce the eggs, prevent walking over the eggs, and to ensure that there is absolutely no chance of the nest being driven over by any type of vehicle.

Hawksbill sea turtles nest every one to five years, coming ashore up to five times and lay a maximum of 160 eggs. Unfortunately, even with the large number of eggs that are laid sea turtles only have a 1% chance of living to adulthood. “Those visiting Dawn Beach should stay clear of the marked area to give the highest chance of survival to these eggs” confirmed the Nature Foundation.

The day before this nest was confirmed, video footage was sent to the Nature Foundation of a hawksbill sea turtle coming ashore on Indigo Bay a very short distance and then returning to the sea after showing signs of being disturbed. The reason a sea turtle would come ashore in St. Maarten is to nest, sea turtle nesting season lasts at least from April to November each year. In the video you can see the sea turtle coming ashore in the late afternoon and several beach visitors are in the area. The proximity of the spectators is a major deterrent for nesting sea turtles and a very likely cause of its choice to return to the sea.

“While it is an amazing event to witness a sea turtle coming ashore to nest, it is essential that more space is given to ensure that they can successfully lay their eggs. While it was obviously not the intention of those in the area to discourage the efforts of the hawksbill at Indigo Bay, following our sea turtle nesting guidelines will help promote more positive nesting activity in the future,” explained the Nature Foundation St. Maarten. 

Sea Turtle Nesting Activity Guidelines:

  • Contact the Nature Foundation right away if you see or suspect sea turtle nesting activity
  • Always maintain a minimum of 30 meters distance from sea turtles that come ashore and reduce noise. Ensure others and children in the area do the same
  • Never use flashlights or flash photography as sea turtles are very sensitive to lights and will even avoid nesting entirely on well-lit beaches
  • Do not allow dogs or other animals to approach the sea turtle
  • Do not allow any type of vehicle to drive on sea turtle nesting beach during the nesting season.

Remember sea turtles are a protected species on SXM and it is illegal to kill, wound, capture or pick up sea turtles. It is also illegal to directly or indirectly disturb their environment resulting in a physical threat or damage, or to commit other acts which result in disturbance of the animal. It is forbidden to disturb, damage or destroy sea turtle nests, lairs or breeding places. In addition, it is forbidden to pick up or to destroy the eggs of any species of sea turtle.

nature turtle nesting on the beach barrier

 

 

 

 

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Ballast Nedam International awarded contract for Sint Maarten Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Following a thorough selection process launched by the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company (PJIAE N.V.), Ballast Nedam International Projects B.V. was selected as the general contractor for the St. Maarten Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project. This international contracting company has vast experience building large-scale and complex projects worldwide, including ports, hospitals, and waterworks.

“This is a major milestone for PJIAE N.V. and the country St. Maarten. After a detailed planning phase, we are now about to start the actual construction and get this project moving to restore our Airport even beyond its former glory. I’m really happy to see the transparency which was demonstrated with this process, and I’m contented with the selection,” announced Mr. Brian Mingo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the PJIAE N.V.

Using the World Bank’s Procurement Regulations for IPF Borrowers procedure, the entire bidding process was later approved by the World Bank leading to a robust and transparent process resulting in the selection of the most advantageous bidder. The evaluation of the bids was based on a combined Technical and Financial scoring methodology.  Ballast Nedam International Projects B.V. presented a well thought through and clear proposal, detailing their plans for delivering the project according to schedule, quality and cost. Their proposal also illustrated their commitment to the local market with a high local participation and content. This is also a positive element for St. Maarten. 

“We are pleased to report that the meticulous bidding and evaluation process of the World Bank was fully adhered to and is now complete with an objective outcome, as we move into the anticipated construction phase of the project,” added Mr. Mirto Breell, “Package 2” Project Director.

The construction portion of the St. Maarten Airport Terminal Reconstruction Project will take a phased approach over a 2-year period, following the planned mobilization of the contractor in August 2021. The project is an essential renovation development of the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIAE), which will further modernize the 15-year-old terminal building that was severely damaged by hurricane Irma in 2017.

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New Indigo Bay Hotel Development One Step Closer. 200 New Jobs

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, (VSA) Omar Ottley signed a scope of service agreement (SOS) with Indigo Shores Developments B. V. The SOS brings the vision of this luxurious hotel one step closer to reality.

The scope of service agreement ensures not only economic benefits for Sint Maarten but also the employment of our local labor force.

According to the SOS, Indigo Shores Developments B.V. agreed to hold job fairs that will take place on three occasions. The first one being at the start of the construction phase, followed by the finishing phase and operational phase.

The Developers also agreed to work along with the National Institute for professional Advancement (NIPA) to offer training opportunities for unskilled job seekers in the local labor market in Sint Maarten.

This will not only strengthen the current labor market, but it will also ensure that the skilled labor resources of Sint Maarten increases.

Minister Ottley stated that he was happy when Indigo Shores Developments B.V. agreed to ensure the usage of local heavy equipment for their project, once they are readily available.

Indigo Shores Developments B.V. stated that preference will be allotted to the use of local machinery and trucks. These negotiations will commence once the project begins.

This Development is estimated to create about 200 job opportunities and has an operational arrangement with the Government of St. Maarten under the auspices of VSA, which guarantees that the majority of employment goes to the local labor force.

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Ministries VSA & Justice sign policy to combat domestic violence, child abuse and gender-based violence

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On June 30th 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice, Anna E. Richardson together with the Honorable Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor (VSA), Omar Ottley signed off on an official policy that was commissioned by both Ministries to strengthen government’s response to combat Domestic Violence (DV), Child Abuse (CA) and Gender based Violence (GBV) through legislation and procedures that prevents their occurrence.

The objective of the policy is to regulate the legal and social procedural actions to prevent, treat and punish the violence observed in this policy and is essential to earmark the various forms of violence and highlight the Government of Sint Maarten’s commitment to ensure that they are eradicated from our society.

To ensure such, the policy entails a categorization of violence by degrees. The three (3) degrees in which these violent acts can be distinguished are first, second and third degree. Each degree of violence is defined through the severity of actions and will be punishable by law in accordance to the penalties that are charged by it. Perpetrators of domestic violence and/or child abuse that have committed legal crimes in all degrees can face charges based on each degree, thus augmenting the punishment.

Minister Richardson lauded the commencement of this policy as a step in the right direction for the people of Sint Maarten. “Having such a policy in place ensures a level of responsibility is taken by the Government of Sint Maarten to address these issues and take measures to ensure a more safe and secure community. These atrocious actions that plague communities create long-term effects that we need to address now so that our communities won’t have to face them later or become victims.”

The Ministry of VSA is committed to being involved in addressing these negative occurrences which can have traumatic and extensive impacts on the victims of these egregious acts. “I believe that this policy is a milestone for Sint Maarten and I am honored to be a part of the process. These matters have always been areas of concern and this policy paves the way for implementing pragmatic and effective solutions.” stated Minister Ottley.

At current, there are 16 policy commitments, which together work to combat domestic violence, child abuse and gender-based violence. These commitments commence with the strengthening of the legal environment, but stretches to ensure better systems for prevention, protection, confidential reporting and treatment for victims, witnesses and the perpetrator.

It is the intention of the Government of Sint Maarten to provide better opportunities for children to grow up in a safer environment, especially in their own homes. In addition, we intend to change the behavior and attitude towards violence in our society for all persons regardless of age, gender, disability, income, ethnicity or other status.

By implementing an integrated policy as such, it has proven to lend its support to the Government’s policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Youth Policy, National Protocol on Child Abuse and Disaster Management.

Through this collaborative effort, Minister Richardson and Minister Ottley hope to be able to effectively enable a proactive approach that tackles the issue of Domestic Violence, Child Abuse, and Gender Based Violence, inevitably reducing the amount of victims and reports on the island.

“The finalization and ratification this policy is in perfect alignment with the finalization and the establishment of the Victim Support Services (VSS). This policy lends added procedural structure to the service and support that VSS will render to victims in our communities” stated Minster Richardson.

Both ministers have committed to taking all the necessary steps and have pledged to actively work towards ending this threat to the residents of Sint Maarten.

In closing, Minister Richardson and Minister Ottley would like to thank all civil servants and external partners of the Ministries who were a part of the process in having this very important policy developed.

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