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WIB informs about Online Statements

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Windward Islands Bank (WIB) has just released important information related to “Online Statements.” As of August 3, 2020, WIB will shift to online statements for all WIB personal, current and savings accounts. Want to learn more, read the attached notice.

WIB Online Statement July 3 2020

 

 

 

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Mom-daughter duo arrested for assaulting another female

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Police Dispatch Center received a call about a fight that was in progress in the Back Street area on Wednesday, July 1st, 2020 at approximately 06.20 pm.

The patrols who were in the area immediately rushed to the scene. Officers encountered a female who informed them that she had gotten into a scuffle with two females, which resulted in her being injured. 

The female victim was suffering from a stab wound to her back as well as small lacerations to her body. 

She revealed to the officers that, her and one of the females had gotten into an altercation some time back, and when they saw each other again words were exchanged.

The exchange of words quickly escalated into a physical altercation. Paramedics treated the victim on the scene and later transported her to the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for further treatment.

Officers obtained the whereabouts of the other females, who fled the scene in a vehicle towards the Cole Bay area. The patrols were able to intercept the vehicle on Union road.

Both suspects with initials J.R. and L.R. were immediately arrested and transported to the police station where they are being held for questioning.

The officers also confiscated a pair of scissors, which were left at the scene after the stabbing. A gulf club used in the fight, found in the vehicle, was also confiscated.   

This incident is being further investigated. People wishing to engage in these acts will be held accountable for their actions. (KPSM)

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Motorworld Launches an Unprecedented Certified Pre-Owned Used Cars Facility

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - There is growing demand for reliable transportation to travel island-wide while keeping safety top of mind. With consideration of the importance of social distancing, Motorworld Group of Companies is expanding the ongoing trend of providing quality new and used automobiles at affordable prices, with the extension of the current dealership to a new facility, ‘Motorworld Used Cars.’

Motorworld Used Cars is located within a few steps from the current dealership at Welfare Road #14, in Colebay, St. Maarten, and will be officially open to the public as of today, Thursday, July 2nd.

With a focus on quality used vehicles, Motorworld Used Cars is a dedicated facility, unlike any other on the island, with a detailed process to provide quality, certified used cars, backed by the Motorworld brand.

Motorworld’s certification process for used cars encompasses a strict 150-point checklist, including computer diagnostic, mechanical check-ups on the engine and other core components, detailing, full body work and factory-quality restoration of the interior and exterior, as needed, to present an exemplary showcase of certified pre-owned vehicles.

A “certified pre-owned car” is very different from the average used car. Motorworld’s used vehicles range from cars, to SUVs, trucks, and commercial vehicles, which are certified using key specifications. 

There are several benefits and advantages that come along with Motorworld’s Used Car’s “certified pre-owned” certification, which includes:

150 Multi-Point Inspection: Motorworld’s certified technicians will perform an intensive review of over 150 parts and systems within each vehicle to ensure that they meet quality and functional requirements.

Quality Repairs and Restoration: Motorworld’s certified pre-owned vehicles will be handled by trained technicians to complete any necessary mechanical repairs and/or body work on the interior or exterior of the vehicles. 

Warranty: All vehicles less than 5 years old will be sold with warranty for added peace of mind. 

Trade In: Trade in, Trade up! Upgrade your vehicle (any brand) to the newest models from Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mazda, Honda, Ford, Jeep, Ram, Isuzu or Audi!  We will appraise your car, give a full diagnostic report, and offer you a fair value for your vehicle. No more stress worrying about how to sell your car! 

Moreover, Motorworld Used Cars is comprised of a huge fleet with “quality vehicles that you can trust,” maintained at a more premium level than regular used cars.

Everyone is encouraged to visit Motorworld Used Cars for a test drive to see, feel and experience the certified pre-owned vehicle(s) of interest.  

Motorworld ins1

Motorworld1

 

 

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Ombudsman calls on former students who studied in the Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In March of this year the National Ombudsman of the Netherlands, Reinier van Zutphen, announced an investigation in response to signals from and about students from the Caribbean part of the Kingdom who encounter various problems during or after their studies in the Netherlands.

According to Van Zutphen, the impression exists that Dutch government authorities are not successful in informing (former) students properly about all what is involved when studying in the Netherlands.

Students and former students claim that they regularly get into financial problems because of difficult communication with the Education Implementation Service (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs), DUO.

The central question of the investigation is what students from the CN (Caribbean Netherlands), Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten can reasonably expect from the Dutch government.

The research will lead to recommendations to improve the preparation, stay and aftercare of Dutch Caribbean students studying in the Netherlands. The National Ombudsman is collaborating with the Ombudsmen of Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The study is expected to be completed in early December 2020.

To further facilitate the investigation, (former) students are encouraged to visit the website www.surveymonkey.com/r/MJX52XD to complete the online questionnaire and let their voices be heard.

The link to the questionnaire can also be found on the Sint Maarten’s Ombudsman Facebook page (www.facebook.com/OmbudsmanSintMaarten).

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Reminder to driving schools, instructors, and existing and prospective students

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT), would like to remind all driving schools, instructors, and existing and prospective students of the following.

Every business should have a COVID-19 Prevention & Safety Plan. The Government of Sint Maarten has issued Guidelines to assist business to prepare their own COVID-19 Prevention and Safety Plan.

These guidelines can be found on the government’s main webpage www.sintmaartengov.org, click on “Laws and National Gazette” and select the year “2020”. The document is entitled, “Final Guidelines to prepare COVID-19 Prevention and Safety Plan for Business”.

Given that the vehicles used by driving schools are in high use and have high touch areas it is strongly encouraged that driving schools sanitize their vehicles after every use.

Students should ensure that they have hand sanitizers on their person as well. Face coverings should be worn inside the vehicle while lessons are being given.

Schools and instructors should rearrange their classroom setting to ensure social distance and proper sanitation protocols are followed including the supply of hand sanitizers in the classroom.

Face coverings should be worn when reporting to the department for your appointed theoretical practical exams.

Please report for your examination a maximum of 15 minutes before your appointed time and not earlier to ensure adequate social distancing.

Walk-ins are not being accepted at the Driving Examinations office. Examiners will not administer exams if candidates do not wear masks or sanitize their hands before commencing the examination (theoretical or practical).

Good cough etiquette must be practiced at all times. Persons exhibiting flu like symptoms will not be allowed to take the theoretical or the practical exam and will be asked to leave and contact their physician.

It is the responsibility of the driving instructor/school to educate their students on the house rules of the department to the student. This has been shared with the instructors/schools previously.

Lastly, the department’s objective is to promote a safe, hygienic working atmosphere for all concerned and looks forward to a continued cooperative relationship with driving schools, instructors, and the driving student population at large.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact the department at 542-5641/527-3825 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Investigating High Food Prices Top Priority for Ministry of TEATT

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) is looking into why food prices on the island remain persistently high in comparison to Aruba and Curaçao, despite having similar economies.

One of the ministry’s priorities is to prevent price gouging and to promote fair competition. The ministry reviewed a recent study on price developments and logistics in the region commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The study described St. Maarten’s import supply chain as having an effective competition with steady imports from the EU and the US. In other words, the risk of artificially high prices within the shipping market is minimized because of a sufficient number of operators, according to the study. 

Compared to Aruba and Curacao, it further points out that St. Maarten has no import-duty and a lower shipping cost. These factors should lead to relatively cheaper prices. However, the report expresses doubts about the degree of competition in St. Maarten’s food distribution market, where an oligopoly situation exists, dominated by a few very large players who not only sell at the wholesale level but also compete at the retail level as well.

St. Maarten’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by a higher percentage than that of Curacao and Aruba, the study shows, with an average rise in food prices of more than 50% over the period 2010-2016 for St. Maarten, while Aruba (+11%) and Curaçao (+20%) experiencing lower rises over the same period, despite each island having higher shipping costs and import duties.

The Ministry of TEATT will ensure that there is constant monitoring of food prices to safeguard fair competition on the island within St. Maarten. Additionally, the Ministry of TEATT will keep the public informed about food price developments and encourages consumers to be informed as much as possible so they can make better choices for themselves and their families.

The Minister of TEATT continues to consult with stakeholders including the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA), the Chamber of Commerce, and the Indian Merchants Association (IMA).

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Leeward Blindsnake: Native to St. Eustatius

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - Using DNA-and morphological analysis, a team from Reptile, Amphibian and Fish Conservation Netherlands (RAVON) and Naturalis have discovered that the Leeward Blindsnake is a native species to the island of St. Eustatius.  Understanding the island’s native reptile population will help design and implement conservation measures to protect this near threatened species in the future.

The Caribbean is considered a biodiversity hot spot, with a relatively largenumber of endemic reptiles and amphibians.  One particular example of this is the Leeward Blindsnake (Antillotyphlops geotomus).  According to the IUCN Red List this species is near threatened and was previously only known to inhabit Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis.  However, a recent scientific publication by Tim Wagensveld, Sander van Staa and Rolan Butôt in Caribbean herpetology reported sightings of the Leeward Blindsnake on St. Eustatius as well.

The Study

To better understand this population on St. Eustatius, researchers from Reptile, Amphibian & Fish Conservation Netherlands (RAVON) studied the DNA sequence of a specimen captured on the island in 2018.  From this, they found a 100% and 99.8% match to similar specimens from Nevis and Antigua respectively. Visual comparisons also matched, as specimens from all three islands lacked pigment on the underside of the tail.                                                                                    

St. Eustatius and Nevis are located geographically near each other, in fact, they are both on the same shallow submarine bank which has only been separated by water since the last ice age.  Due to this fact,

it is believed that the Leeward Blindsnake is native to St. Eustatius, as opposed to being an introduced species.  

Over the course of the study, three snakes were observed.  The first two were documented in March of 2017 and the third in November of 2018.  Each of the three snakes were found under rocks at the foot of the Quill, a notably dry environment, with large trees and very little ground vegetation. The Blindsnake preys on insects associated with these dry forest.  Overgrazing by free roaming animals on the island minimizes ground vegetation, limiting the habitat range for these snakes.  

Snakes of St. Eustatius

St. Eustatius is home to a few other snakes as well, including the native Red-bellied Racer (Alsophis rufiventris) and introduced Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus) native to Asia (Hedges et al. 2014).  The Brahminy Blindsnake is often spotted by local residents, especially after periods of heavy rain.  This introduced species could pose a threat to the native Blindsnake as they may inhabit similar areas, however, the interactions between these two species of snakes is not fully understood.

Understanding these unique native and introduced species will prove key in designing conservation efforts to protect them into the future.  More research is required to understand the population dynamics of these snakes and how they interact with each other.  Protecting endemic species is important in maintaining the ecological balance and value within these islands. This study brought us one step closer to understanding the island and all of its inhabitants.

Report your sightings

Please report any sightings or photos you have of reptiles or other species on https://dutchcaribbean.observation.org. This is a free website and app which allows local citizens to report sightings of important plants and animals. These tools are available in over 40 languages and can be used by biologists and citizens and tourists alike. Species reports by local communities are invaluable for nature conservation efforts to help increase public awareness and overall species protection. Besides, Observation.org is working together with Naturalis Biodiversity Center on automated species identification software. Your uploaded photos are of great value to make this possible. For questions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Simpson Bay & Causeway Bridge Openings Return to Regular Daily Schedule

PORT ST. MAARTEN – The Simpson Bay Bridge will resume regular scheduled bridge opening times as of Wednesday, July 1st for the Simpson Bay Bridge as well as the Causeway Bridge.

The regular schedule bridge opening times are Simpson Bay Bridge:

08.30 am outbound; 09.30 am inbound; 10.30 am outbound; 11.30 am inbound; 3.00 pm inbound; 4.00 pm outbound; 5.00 pm inbound.

Causeway Bridge: 08.00 am; 10.00 am; 3.30 pm.

Back on March 27, 2020, the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority reduced bridge openings due to the national COVID-19 lockdown and reduced boat traffic.

Due to the normalization of economic activity, the Lagoon Authority decided to revert back to the regular schedule.

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Maximum tariffs set for distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) sets the maximum tariffs for the distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands, as applicable from July 1st, 2020.

The ACM sets maximum tariffs for the production and distribution of electricity in the Caribbean Netherlands. The utilities companies use them to set the tariffs that they are actually charging. For the distribution of electricity, the ACM always adjusts the maximum tariffs effective from July 1st in order to take the development of the prices for the fuel required for the production of electricity into account.

St. Eustatius

For St. Eustatius, the maximum variable consumption tariff decreases from 0.3018 USD/kWh to 0.2450 USD/kWh. This decrease is mostly caused by today’s low oil prices. For the consumption of an average household on St. Eustatius this implies a decrease of approximately USD 15 per month.

Saba

For Saba, the maximum variable consumption tariff decreases from 0.2912 USD/kWh to 0.2151 USD/kWh. This decrease is mostly caused by today’s low oil prices. For the consumption of an average household on Saba this implies a decrease of approximately USD 20 USD per month.

Bonaire

For Bonaire, the maximum variable consumption tariff increases from 0.2225 USD/kWh to 0.2277 USD/kWh. The maximum pagabon tariff (prepaid) increases from 0.4328 USD/kWh to 0.4380 USD/kWh. For the consumption of an average household on Bonaire this can imply an increase of approximately USD 1.50 per month.

The maximum tariffs on Bonaire increase slightly due to a shortage of heating oil as a result of which diesel must be used to generate electricity. Diesel is more expensive than heating oil but due to today’s low oil prices the relevant effect on the tariffs is limited compared to the tariffs prior to July 1st, 2020. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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SMMC making COVID care facilities storm resilient

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - In an effort to weather any possible storms, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) has made arrangements for its COVID care facilities (the Mobile Medical Pavilion and the ICU tent) to be made more storm resilient.

Both COVID care facilities will be transformed into a storm resilient medical container park in which special medically outfitted containers (so-called “hospitainers”), donated by the Dutch Ministry of Health, will be welded together and securely anchored to a solid concrete foundation. Each container is outfitted with airco units and the cluster of containers will be covered by one roof as additional temperature control. The project is scheduled to be finalized before the peak of the 2020 hurricane season and SMMC may use the donated medical containers for an extended period ensuring usage beyond the present hurricane season, if needed.

SMMC’s Medical Director, Dr. Felix Holiday stated: “In the first phase of the COVID pandemic, SMMC had to act swiftly to get additional COVID care facilities realized in order to deal with the rapidly increasing number of admitted COVID patients. Thanks to our very hard working and dedicated team and with the help of the Government of St. Maarten, the Dutch Government and The World Bank, we got that accomplished in a record-breaking time. At this point, whereby our COVID care capacity is increased and with the local COVID situation stabilized, we are in a much better position to deal with another surge and as such we have entered the next phase which is making our COVID care facilities more storm resilient. This is not only with the present hurricane season in mind but also taking into account that we do not know for how long we will need the extra capacity as COVID could be around for the foreseeable future”, Dr. Holiday concluded.

The COVID medical container park will have 16 beds of which 4 are ICU beds which include having dedicated ventilator capability. SMMC aims to keep all COVID care outside of the hospital but in case of a surge in admissions, also has COVID capacity inside SMMC with 6 ICU beds and another 8 medium care beds, all of which are in isolation. No patients will be kept inside the medical containers once a storm poses a direct threat to St. Maarten and will be evacuated to a safe location.

The COVID medical container park will be erected at the same location as where the present Mobile Medical Pavilion and ICU Tent are located, which is opposite SMMC at the Southern side of Raoul Illidge Sports Complex. In the event of a surge, a team of volunteer medical professionals are on standby for the foreseeable future to assist SMMC’s team of doctors and nurses with the care and treatment of COVID patients. The project to make the COVID care facilities more storm resilient is made possible in part by funds from the St. Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund that is funded by The Netherlands and managed by The World Bank for which SMMC expresses its gratitude.

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