Soualiga News

Soualiga News (5206)

Vendors at Kimsha parking lot express frustration with neglect by government

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The vendors at Kimsha parking lot, otherwise known as “The Strip”, are frustrated that after almost two years they still do not have water and electricity meters and stressed that the neglect by government could result in a dangerous situation at the location.

They explained that In October 2020 they were summoned by Government to a meeting with representatives from TEATT, VSA and VROMI Ministries and the fire department. The purpose of the meeting was to address adherence to operational policies of each department. Following this meeting,

Inspections were arranged and carried out and all necessary adjustments were made by the vendors.

The vendors also welcomed the opportunity to dialogue with government with regards to the public rest rooms that is supposed to be cleaned and maintained by government, and stressed on their multiple requests to acquire their own individual water and electricity meters that they have been officially requesting since 2017.

It was agreed in the meeting held with government that once all safety requirements were met and inspection cards submitted to government, the issuance of water and electric meters to individual booth holders would be executed. The booth holders all made a substantial investment to meet the requirements of government and GEBE

“Almost two years since all inspection cards were submitted to the ministry of VROMI and GEBE we are still awaiting the completion of the process in order to issue the meters to the vendors,” they said.

“We don’t know if it is true, but we were told that GEBE has issued numerous requests to the Ministry of VROMI which have gone unanswered and there is nothing that GEBE can do to execute the issuance of the electric meters without receiving the submitted inspection cards from the ministry of VROMI. Meanwhile GEBE is still concerned with the overloaded circuitry being utilized by the vendors,” they added.

Complaints to GEBE by the vendors and property owner where the over worked meters is located have also gone unanswered by the ministry of VROMI. The vendors expressed concern over the neglect and wonders if government is waiting on something to go wrong or someone is hurt before the situation is addressed.


WYCCF asks for volunteers to continue providing quality care to clients

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE) - The White & Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) asks for volunteers to assist with the care for its clients, as it is confronted with a staffing shortage due to the surge in positive Covid-19 cases.

Today (Friday, January 7th), we passed 1.000 positive cases on the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. Inevitably, the WYCCF with 170+ staff is also affected by this fifth Omicron wave. It has many employees from several departments who tested positive and some having to quarantine at home, causing serious staffing issues.

To continue providing care to its clients, the WYCCF is looking for volunteers to support in nursing and care. All help is welcome, especially if you have some professional or personal experience in nursing or caring for the elderly.

Daily support is needed, and can include help with feeding, caring, or helping with activities. But also logistical, like assistance with transportation, food delivery, laundry, etc.

Volunteers need to be vaccinated and must have received their booster shot at least two weeks ago. They also should be willing to comply with our covid preventive measures (face mask, hand hygiene, social distance, etc.).

If you are interested or know someone who's interested in helping the WYCCF, please send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include your name, background in care, age, phone number, and what days you are willing to assist us, and if you have specific skills.
All help is welcome!


PSS N.V. donates food voucher to New Start for Children Foundation

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Ending 2021, on a good note, members of the Supervisory Board, management, and staff of Postal Services St. Maarten N.V. (PSS N.V.), through its “End-of-year Community Give-back Initiative”, collected a total of Ang.1800.

Interim Director of PSS N.V., Ms. Gumbs, explained that this commendable project is an annual initiative by the staff of PSS N.V. She added that despite the difficulties being experienced economically, PSS as an organization still wanted to give back to the community”.

For 2021, the staff of PSS N.V. unequivocally decided that Mrs. Sally Benjamin, Director of the New Start for Children Foundation, was so deserving of this donation. The New Start Foundation for Children operates a foster home with a maximum capacity of twenty children ranging from 0 to 18 years of age.

A food voucher from Prime Distributors valued at Ang.1800 was presented to Mrs. Benjamin on December 30, 2021, by PSS’ Board, Management, and staff representatives.


USP questions the blind execution of legislation that legislates the legislator

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - President of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) board Cecil Nicholas said his board was baffled by Thursday’s public meeting of Parliament which dealt with the suspension of MP Claudius Buncamper, dubbing the meeting “amusing”.

“Today’s meeting which should have been opened and closed without fan fear because the law is clear, was turned into a circus with legislators basically elucidating on the interpretation of the law. Are the legislators not supposed to present proposed amendments to the law?” Nicholas said.

“What should have been addressed today is how the declaration of Independence by MPs circumvents proportional representation based on the party list, since the execution of the letter of the Attorney General now nullifies the notion that MPs own the seat based on the oath they take.

What is the spirit of the law with regards to application of proportional representation in accordance with the party list? Does the oath circumvent the party platform and manifesto as it relates to the vision for the country that is sold to the people during election campaigns? If the seat belongs to individual candidates, then why does the law now reflect back to the party as opposed to the affected MP now appointing his own substitute as an independent member of parliament?” Nicholas continued.

He added that while parliament without question accepted the “nullification of the US party and its list with a declaration of independence, the highest legislative body in the country is now awaiting another instruction, this time from the electoral council of who will be the representative member of the same USP in Parliament. “Which they have to accept without question, outside of having new elections,” Nicholas said.

“So the same laws that cast the party aside, also acknowledges the primary position of the party as the foundation of the basis of the seats in Parliament. The United St. Maarten Party found itself in a similar predicament when its two seats won in an election unceremoniously transitioned with declarations of independence on the floor of parliament based on the same impractical laws.”

“The highest legislative body in the country in its public meeting today displayed why there is no room for an individualistic approach to governing based on an oath. As they await another instruction, the constitution as constructed since 10 10 10 continues to cannibalize itself,” Nicholas conclude.


Public Health warns against the illegal practices of commercial rapid antigen Covid test sites and the sale of self-tests

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Given the very steep increase in Covid-19 cases and the fact that the highly infectious Omicron variant is becoming the dominant strain on Sint Maarten, people resort to rapid self-testing, the Inspectorate of Public Health said on Thursday in a press statement.

“Rapid antigen (Ag) self-testing has its advantages and disadvantages. The tests are cheap, an individual can easily apply the test and results are obtained in a few minutes.

“On the other hand, these tests are not as reliable as the rt-PCR test and large variation is seen in sensitivity and specificity between the large amounts of available tests. In particular also in the ability to detect Omicron. The sensitivity and specificity of a test will determine the risk for a false positive or false negative test result.

“Notwithstanding the above, these self-tests have earned a place in combatting this pandemic by conducting preventive screening in specific settings e.g., hotel sector, large companies, schools, health care institutions.

“The import and sale of personal medical diagnostics tests are regulated by law in Sint Maarten.

To guarantee the quality of self-tests made available to the public and the appropriate application and follow up during these demanding days the Inspectorate VSA has established a policy framework.

  • Rapid Ag self-tests may only be imported and sold by pharmacies.
  • Import is only possible for approved Ag self-tests with an import permit from the Inspectorate.

“The approved rapid self-tests are now widely available to everyone at most pharmacies on the island for a price tag between $ 5.00 - 7.00. The pharmacies provide instructions on the use and can answer questions one may have. A positive self-test result means that quarantine measures are to be taken and that confirmation by an rt-PCR test performed by a lab is required. CPS does this free in a collaboration with a lab.

“Commercial covid test services may only be performed by an established authorized lab, meaning that the testing is supervised by the lab, run by qualified staff and results in a lab report.

Travel covid testing requires an official lab report with the result and other data and is performed at test sites managed by the labs.

“Preventive screening on the work floor and at schools as mentioned above happens under supervision of a lab or other qualified health care professional(s),” the Inspector General for Public Health concludes in its Thursday statement.

The Inspectorate falls under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA).


17th Annual National Day of Prayer 2022 takes place on January 9th

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – This year’s National Day of Prayer will take place on January 9th with the theme “Almighty God Let Your Culture of Divine Unity Rule”. The Government of Sint Maarten in collaboration with the St. Maarten Christian Council, St. Maarten United Ministerial Foundation and the Seventh Day Adventist Church hosts the National Day of Prayer every year on the second Sunday in January.

Every year, the entire community on Sint Maarten are invited to pray and worship at the National Day of Prayer at the Government Administration Building. The National Day of Prayer was decreed in 2005 by the Executive Council of the Island Territory of Sint Maarten and serves as an ecumenical service for persons of all faiths and religions to pray for a prosperous and healthy new year for the nation

For persons who chose to or are unable to attend, the Government of Sint Maarten is encouraging you to view and tune in to the live coverage of the National Day of Prayer which begins at 4:30 pm via the following media outlets SXMGOV Radio 107.9 FM, Facebook/SXMGOV and TelTV Channel 15.


SMMC reminds public to stay at home, if symptomatic. Do not come to ER, call your House Doctor first

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 admissions (from 2 to 8 admitted patients currently) and persons with COVID-19 symptoms visiting the Emergency Room (ER) for non-emergency related cases and is hereby again reminding the general public to call your General Practitioner (GP), your House Doctor, first if you have COVID-19 symptoms who will assess if you need to be taken to the hospital.

Chairman of the OMT, Dr. Felix Holiday reminds everyone that the prevailing COVID-19 procedure needs to be followed, which is:

  1. Call your House Doctor first in case you have COVID-19 symptoms.
  2. Your House Doctor will make the assessment if you require hospitalization.
  3. In case you require hospitalization, an ambulance will be arranged to pick you up.

“In an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission to the public and staff at SMMC and in the interest not to overburden our regular healthcare system, we are urgently requesting the public to refrain from visiting the ER when displaying COVID-19 symptoms and to call your House Doctor first who will assess your health and further advise on the next steps. By all means, do not come to the ER, call your House Doctor first”, Dr. Holiday stated.

The OMT also points out that preliminary data on the Omicron variant, which is quickly becoming the dominant strain worldwide, indicate to mostly milder cases requiring less persons to be hospitalized with severe illness due to COVID-19 as stated by several official institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The OMT also urges the general public to get their COVID-19 booster shot in case they are vaccinated and those that not yet have vaccinated, to go do so as soon as possible as vaccines have proven to be safe and efficient in protecting against severe COVID-19 illness requiring hospitalization.

Persons can get their COVID-19 booster shot on a walk-in basis at CPS (Vineyard Building) during weekdays from 8 am – 3 pm.


PFP questions Government about ongoing GEBE leadership saga

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson have sent questions to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran about the ongoing leadership saga at government-owned water and electricity company GEBE.

In their letter, MPs Gumbs and Peterson mentioned several media articles that revealed new information about the dismissal of interim manager Mr. Mauricio Dembrook and the court case against the expected incoming chief executive officer (CEO) Ms. Sharine Daniel.

Mr. Dembrook - in a letter to the Sint Maarten Government on October 15, 2021 - highlighted disturbing information he had uncovered about Ms. Daniel and her potential installation as GEBE’s CEO.

The PFP faction is curious as to why GEBE’s Supervisory Board of Directors removed Mr. Dembrook from the interim position after they received this objection letter. The MPs have thus asked Ministers Jacobs and Doran to explain the Supervisory Board’s official position about the letter. They also questioned if the Supervisory Board had investigated the concerns mentioned in the letter, or simply dismissed the claims and got rid of Mr. Dembrook as retribution for speaking out.

“We hope that the Supervisory Board actually looked into the claims with due diligence, and is not acting out of political favouritism and vengeance,” MP Gumbs said. “Good corporate governance does mean investigating the kind of serious claims made in that letter. This is why the Corporate Governance Council noted the necessity for legal and financial minds to be on the GEBE Supervisory Board. This is a necessity that the Government does not seem to care about, given the competencies of recent appointees, all of whom, while being professional in their own fields, are not financial and legal experts.”

PFP also questioned the two Ministers about the court case against Ms. Daniel, noting that media reports have claimed that Mr. Dembrook was removed because he appealed the original verdict. The MPs asked if the Supervisory Board had given instructions to Mr. Dembrook regarding the court case, such as explicitly forbidding him from lodging an appeal. PFP also asked for copies of any Board resolutions related to these decisions.

“It’s unclear to me why the Supervisory Board would not want to appeal the verdict, especially considering that whether to appeal a court case involving GEBE is the prerogative of the CEO, interim or not,” noted MP Peterson. “The judge spoke of a toxic working environment at GEBE. If the content of Mr. Dembrook’s letter to the Supervisory Board is true, then the appointment of the new CEO is not in GEBE’s best interest, as it would only perpetuate the toxicity. This again highlights why the Corporate Governance Council made it a point to say that the board of GEBE needed to have a legal expert as one of its appointed members. Any lawyer worth their hourly fee would have informed them that an appeal was the way to go in this instance.”

At the heart of PFP’s letter is the concern about the troubling instances of political games being played in the country’s Government-owned companies.

“Sint Maarten has been plagued by a culture where CEOs of crucial government-owned companies are being used as tools for personal and political gain. When trying to appoint a person to lead our only utility company - the company responsible for the basic necessities of every household - you would hope that politics would not play a part in it, but in Sint Maarten it’s the opposite. From some media outlets becoming part of the obvious games with biased ‘news’ articles, to interim CEOs being suspended for following the normal legal trajectories set forth by law, one cannot help but wonder if we are ever going to take the positions of board members and CEOs seriously, especially those whose appointment is (partially) decided at the discretion of our Council of Ministers,” the PFP faction concluded.


Nightlife business hours to scale back to 1:00 am

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Hon. Omar Ottley informs the public, that in accordance with his COVID-19 phased approach for the night life entertainment sector; business hours will be scaled back to 1:00 am.

The phased approach is based on the hospital's occupancy rate and capacity, to avoid a possible collapse of our health care system, while maintaining a balance in our economic activity on the island.

For clarity, the Ministerial Regulation goes into effect on Wednesday January 5th, with the understanding that all nightlife establishments must be closed by 1:00 am on January 6th.

Phase 1:

4 - 7 hospitalizations (20%), scale back to 1:00 am. If hospitalization should later decrease to less than 4, for a period of two weeks, then the time would be reverted.

Phase 2:

8 or more hospitalizations (40%), scale back to 11:00 pm. If hospitalizations should decrease to less than 8, for a period of two weeks, then the time would be adjusted accordingly.

Evidence has mounted that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible. It is far more transmissible than the previous variants and is becoming predominant worldwide. As the World Health Organization (WHO) notes, “vaccines are likely to have some effectiveness against Omicron, particularly for persons with a severe disease, even if the performance is reduced compared with other variants.”

The Minister is advising everyone to take personal responsibility for their health and that of their loved ones, by adhering to the COVID-19 preventative health measures. We know how to fight the virus already; we have vast knowledge at our fingertips.

In addition, physical distancing, ventilating indoor spaces, hand hygiene, avoiding crowds, and reducing one’s number of social contacts can also help to control transmission of the more transmissible Omicron variant. Please get vaccinated if you have not done so, and if you have been double vaccinated, get your booster.  

The Minister would also like to advise all persons who obtains a positive result from a self-test, to isolate themselves immediately. There are too many complaints of persons testing positive and still reporting to work or interacting with others.

This causes an extremely negative domino effect on our country’s COVID-19 statistics and can lead to possible hospitalization of others around you, the Minister said in his statement on Tuesday evening.


Minister Doran: Front Street Emergency Road Repairs starts Wednesday

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Honorable Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment & Infrastructure (Ministry of VROMI) Egbert Doran, said on Tuesday that emergency road repairs on Front Street will commence Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

These emergency repairs are expected to be completed by mid-January barring any unforeseen circumstances and ensure the safety of pedestrians and motorists including cruise guests, stayover visitors and residents as they make use of the main shopping street in Philipsburg.

With Sint Maarten being one of the many tourist destinations within the Caribbean, and tourism being the main pillar for the economy, these repairs are most welcome by business owners, shoppers, and the community as a whole.

All stakeholders including the Front Street businesses have been informed regarding the commencement of these emergency repairs and cooperation from all involved is expected. The Ministry expresses apologies for any inconveniences that may occur.

The works will be carried out daily by two teams.

Team 1 is scheduled to operate from 7:00 am until 3:00 pm, while Team 2 will continue from 4:00 pm until 12:00 (midnight).

The general public is requested to pay keen attention to the following which includes the intended areas to be repaired along with the timeline starting as of Wednesday January 5th, 2022: From the Catholic cemetery to St. Jan-Steeg, (10 calendar days); From St. Jan-Steeg to the Guava berry Emporium store, (10 calendar days).

These mentioned repair works entail the reinstalling and leveling of the existing road pavers (bricks) on Front Street. The project is focused on the critical areas for the rehabilitation of the street.

Although the road will be closed off for motorists, pedestrians will still be able to make use of the areas where the civil works will be taking place.

“The emergency repairs are necessary in order to ensure the above as we address our key infrastructure requirements. The civil works will be carried out within the shortest timeframe and in the end, it will contribute positively to our visitors and locals’ experience,” Minister of VROMI Hon. Egbert Doran said on Tuesday.

Business owners are advised to avoid conducting deliveries during peak hours and to do so via the side roads which are also known as the “alleys” between Front Street and Back Street. It is also strictly forbidden to park cars in these side roads (alleys) as they should remain free in the event of emergencies whereby the Police, Fire Department of Ambulance is needed.

For additional information regarding this project please contact the following persons, Ing. Bako Maynard, of New Projects Development and Planning, or Ing. Reymond Chittick, Project Manager of Infrastructure Management by sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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