THE HAGUE--Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) on Monday sought more clarity from Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops about the presence of international observers at the January 9, 2020, election in St. Maarten.
AIRPORT--Immigration and police officials arrested three Dominican Republic nationals at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) on Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8, because they were in possession of fake passports.
Fort Louis Marina Director Lisa Barrot gave a presentation on the renovation programme and timetable for the various phases. Photo by Robert Luckock.
MARIGOT--Work has started on the 5.5-million-euro renovation programme for Marina Fort Louis, as evidenced from a walk-through for the media at the Marina on Friday.
The tour was preceded by a PowerPoint presentation given by Marina Director Lisa Barrot. Initial work has started on street- and car-park-lighting outside the marina.
The Executive Council approved the renovation programme on November 20. The Collectivité took over management of Marina Fort Louis and Marina Port La Royale on January 1, 2019.
For Marina Port La Royale, exit from the Délegation Service Publique (DSP) with concession holder SEMSAMAR has not yet been completed, but it has for Fort Louis Marina.
The hold-up concerns the legal wording of an exit protocol that has to be agreed between Collectivité and SEMSAMAR before any major work can start there. It explains why Marina Fort Louis can proceed with its renovations while Marina Royale is not moving forward yet with any major investment.
“But we have carried out renovation work on the public areas of Port la Royale Marina in recent months, with a complete renovation of the deck and public lighting for an amount of 50,000 euros,” Gibbs emphasised. “More substantial improvements are being considered for this marina and we will have the opportunity to discuss them in the coming months, once the DSP release with SEMSAMAR has been definitively settled.
“For the moment, we are launching the renovation of the Fort Louis Marina for 5.5 million euros. To finance this major work, we will use the convergence contract that will soon be signed with the State.
“The ageing equipment and infrastructure of Fort Louis Marina require major rehabilitation work to be undertaken. I have asked that this work be a priority, because the recovery of our tourism economy requires a rapid response to improving the welcome for guests in the marine sector and ensuring the safety of our marinas.”
The project includes studies, infrastructure work, upgrading electricity networks and public lighting from the promenade of the West Indies Shopping Mall to the pier car park. Also planned are the renovation of the harbour master's office and Restaurant Le Yacht Club, as well as the paving and lighting on the breakwater. Work to replace the cracked sections of the concrete overlay on the breakwater starts this week.
Renovation of the marina building includes floor-to-ceiling transformation with improved accessibility to customer services, a captains and crew lounge, expanded outdoor casual dining at the Yacht Club Restaurant which will also have a new roof.
Repairs to be made to existing docks include installation of 53 “smart” pedestals that can transform voltage from anywhere in the world. These pedestals offer real-time information on water and power consumption from a smartphone, remote-controlled equipment management, an upgraded WiFi network and charging stations to power up electronics.
Repairs also need to be made to the sheet pile wall and the old jetty to plug any holes, the objective being to have complete protection from heavy swells.
Studies for the project have already been carried out and companies selected for the first phase of the work. The project should be completed in its entirety in September 2020. Gibbs said studies are also ongoing with the board of directors of the Port of Galisbay on development of Marigot Bay and Grand Case Bay.
The first phase of the development of the Marigot Waterfront, scheduled for 2020, consists of renovating the promenade in front of the cemetery. Rehabilitation of the Sandy Ground Bridge for a total amount of 1.6-million euros is underway now, with the second phase to be completed in April 2020.
Marina Fort Louis, Marigot. Photo by Robert Luckock.
World Bank and St. Maarten representatives at the signing of the financing agreements.
WASHINGTON, D.C.--The St. Maarten government and the World Bank have signed the US $72 million grant agreement for the Terminal Reconstruction Project, which aims to restore full service at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
DATE ISSUED: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 @ 12:00 LST (16:00 UTC) VALID UNTIL: Wednesday midday (12:00 LST) December 11, 2019
…A SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY IS NOW IN EFFECT FOR ST. MAARTEN UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE…
WEATHER: This afternoon through Wednesday midday: Fair to partly cloudy and breezy with a passing shower possible.
Forecast High: 31°C / 88°F Forecast Low: 26°C / 79°F
Sunset Today: 5:37 P.M. Sunrise Tomorrow: 6:33 A.M.
SURFACE WINDS: This afternoon through Wednesday midday: East-northeasterly with a gentle to moderate breeze of 10 to 19 mph, and higher gusts possible.
A dominant Atlantic high pressure system will restrict precipitation and continue to generate brisk winds across the region.
Moderate to rough seas are expected for the next few days, peaking up to 9 feet. As such, a Small Craft Advisory is now in effect. Small craft operators and sea bathers should exercise caution, especially in the northern and eastern shores.
STATE OF THE SEA: Moderate to rough WAVES/SWELLS: 6 to 9 feet.
SPECIAL FEATURE: None.
OUTLOOK through Thursday midday: Fair to partly cloudy and breezy with brief showers possible.
CUPECOY--Cupecoy Sunset Toastmasters Club will host a Table Topics-a-Thon meeting entitled “Christmas with the Candidates” at American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine at 6:00pm Thursday, December 12. During the event, political candidates will be given several two-minute timeslots to answer randomly-selected questions.
The signing of a US $72 million grant agreement between St. Maarten and the World Bank (see related story) for the reconstruction of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is no doubt very welcome. It’s also long-awaited, as the recent change in government caused some delay due primarily to concerns among existing bondholders that were recently addressed in a motion unanimously adopted by Parliament. Some suggested the incoming coalition did not want the outgoing cabinet to take credit, but important is that in the end the deal got done.
The money is coming from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund and will be borrowed from government by PJIA. It has been complemented with a US $50 million loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and $7 million from the airport’s own revenues.
The terminal will be restored to its pre-Hurricane Irma capacity of 2.5 million travellers annually but also “built back better” to make it more resistant to extreme weather events. The sooner this crucial project for the local tourism economy can start obviously the better, but it realistically it won’t be completed until at least the end of 2021.
That means the destination will have to do with the current facility for
another two years, while air arrivals are expected to reach 80 per cent of pre-Irma levels over 2020. The good news is that the work is to be executed in phases, with improvements including expanding available space where possible along the way.
A lot clearly remains to be done, as the tendering process can only now begin. However, there is finally some light at the end of what seemed an almost endless tunnel.
Friday evening’s reopening of renovated The Cliff is another sign that St. Maarten and its tourism economy continue to bounce back from the severe blow inflicted by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Cupecoy, which has seen considerable development over the years mainly due to the presence of American University of the Caribbean (AUC), completely lost two resorts – Summit Hotel and Ocean Club.
On the other hand, Sapphire Beach Club is up and running, while some of the other visitor accommodations in the vicinity never had to close. The new tower under construction at Mullet Bay and rebuilding of the Starz Casino entertainment centre will no doubt bring even more life to the area.
Although there are reportedly ongoing issues regarding The Towers at Mullet Bay, Maho Village has already seen a full recovery with most resorts located there back to normal. Some nearby are still undergoing repairs, while Alegria remains a work in progress.
In the Simpson Bay area Royal Palm and Flamingo Resort are badly missed, but they both plan to reopen next June, which should bring the Dutch side’s room inventory close to pre-Irma levels. The only real question mark remains the hotel part of The Westin at Dawn Beach, while construction of the 450-unit Planet Hollywood to replace the smaller demolished Great Bay Beach Resort is yet to begin in earnest.
All in all, the immediate future picture regarding the island’s capacity to receive international guests looks hopeful, while increased use of Airbnb and similar services can also help pick up the slack. Air-arrivals estimated at 60 per cent of the record 2016 numbers this year are expected to go up to 80 per cent in 2020, so whatever is available in terms of adequate housing for tourists will probably be welcome especially during peak periods such as the Heineken Regatta.
ROSEAU, Dominica--Despite several observer missions declaring that the outcome of Friday’s general election in which the Dominica Labour Party (DLP) won a fifth consecutive term reflected the will of the people, the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) is insisting it will not accept the results of what it says was a “rigged” and “stolen” election.
KINGSTON, Jamaica--The Healthy Caribbean Coalition (HCC) is calling for radical changes over the next decade to address childhood obesity in Jamaica and the rest of the region.
WASHINGTON--A new analysis of where "innovation" jobs are being created in the United States paints a stark portrait of a divided economy where the industries seen as key to future growth cluster in a narrowing set of places.
WASHINGTON--Paul Volcker, the towering former Federal Reserve chairman who tamed U.S. inflation in the 1980s and decades later inspired tough Wall Street reforms in the wake of the global financial crisis, died on Monday at the age of 92, according to his daughter Janice Zima.
Volcker, who Zima said had been suffering from prostate cancer, was the first to bring celebrity status to the job of U.S. central banker, serving as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987. As with the man who succeeded him, Alan Greenspan, Volcker could soothe or excite financial markets with just a vague murmur.
OAKLAND, California--The dance floor is packed, the disco lights are flashing and the DJ is spinning R&B and pop beats.
But this is no sweaty, late-night club. It's 10 a.m. on a Sunday; the only drinks are in sippy cups, and the energetic dancers have to leave before nap time.
NEW YORK--A performance artist who ate a banana taped to a wall that was an artwork valued at $120,000 said his actions were not vandalism and he does not regret his snack at Art Basel in Miami Beach, Florida.
WASHINGTON--The U.S. Justice Department's internal watchdog said on Monday that it found numerous errors but no evidence of political bias by the FBI when it opened an investigation into contacts between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia in 2016.
STORM LAKE/OELWEIN, Iowa--As Joe Biden on Saturday finished an eight-day bus tour through the crucial early nominating state of Iowa, one realization loomed large: His biggest challenge to clinching the Democratic presidential nomination may be coming from Pete Buttigieg, a Midwest mayor less than half his age.
PARIS--The leaders of Russia and Ukraine agreed on Tuesday to exchange all remaining prisoners from the conflict in east Ukraine by the end of the year, but left thorny questions about the region's status for future talks.
People on a boat react as smoke billows from the volcanic eruption of Whakaari, also known as White Island, New Zealand December 9, 2019 in this picture grab obtained from a social media video. (INSTAGRAM @ALLESSANDROKAUFFMANN/via REUTERS)
WHAKATANE, New Zealand--New Zealand said on Tuesday that eight people were missing and presumed dead a day after a volcano erupted off the coast of New Zealand's North Island, with at least five people confirmed dead and more than 30 injured.
PHILIPSBURG--The young netballers of St. Maarten outshine their Anguilla counterparts by winning all their matches in the U13 and U16 matches at the L.B. Scott Sports Auditorium over the weekend and on Monday morning also.
SIMPSON BAY--Jan van der Eynde skippering Wanna Be took first place on Sunday was second on Saturday and finished the 16th annual La Course de L’Alliance in first place overall.
I have noticed that our people in government as well as those aspiring to enter government continue to make promises.
Promises they have never kept and because of past experience I would dare say promises they never intended to keep. More proof of what they actually did was to mismanage the people’s patrimony, causing several of them to be indicted. I find myself reacting because, because of the circumstances it slowed down, they are right back at the same thing again. Everybody, yes everybody, knows about buying votes, because those who are paid to vote set up others so that they can share with whoever they encouraged. It is nothing that can hide.
It is done blatantly in public view. Voters come out of the polling station, go to the one who has to pay them and hand over the blank ballot. If they are not sure what to do there are others around to pass it on. Still our people in government do not think it is necessary to have election observers. Really. Which means that even though the majority of the population of St. Maarten is aware but does not agree with the concept of vote buying, it will be accused of being vote sellers. That is disrespecting the people and those who do that should be punished on election day. They have not done anything to be proud of.
It has taken nine years and counting to get a simple law on the use of plastic bags to be passed and implemented. I would be ashamed to touch that law after so many years. It has been the same people at the helm, Sarah, William, Frans, Theo and their followers.
It is time to get rid of them. They gave us a constitution full of holes, permitting Holland to continue to do what they want with us and now they want to grandstand. What the people did not know before a whole lot of us know now.
Fact is, by constantly throwing down the government they exhausted their lackeys and now find themselves obliged to enhance the circle. Which means more friends who have a friend. And gradually we all have an idea what is really going on. So we do not want any promises, just give us a stable government. With people who do not have skeletons in their closets People who, like a Commissioner once said about me, people who can say “no” to anybody.
People with integrity like Chacho, people who put country before self.
We don’t want any promises of houses, that and the same pension story that is being made up now could have been in and out of the pipeline a long time ago if only we did not have nine governments in nine years with the same deck of cards.
To be able to control the supermarkets we have to move the Customs and put them under the Ministry where those container movements could be controlled. Just like vote buying.
Because it has worked for the bigger parties, there should not be any “election observers”. I would see the positive side and make use of the opportunity to welcome them and prove that my elections are clean, which would go a long way in getting rid of that stigma about St. Maarten being corrupt. But it seems that is a difficult chance to take also. This is not a question of every four years, this has become a yearly habit.
So, let them keep their promises to themselves. If cost of living continues to rise and we are reaching a stage where there is no middle class, who will the UP be building those 1,000 homes for? Everybody.
Why should I expect that after trying so many years to get them to look at what is happening with the pensioners, that it is going to happen all of a sudden? What they should seriously start thinking about is putting water tanks in the hills above every village. With good filtering and with the help of gravity we will be able to get water to all the homes for next to nothing.
Not to forget that it is long past time for us to go over to solar panels. When I sat and talked about solar panels some young people told me I missed the boat and that there has already been a feasibility study made for placing of solar panels, but according to the schoolchildren those involved in the oil used by GEBE to generate electricity were not ready to entertain that idea.
With all that we have happening with solar energy in all the other islands of the former Netherlands Antilles, including Saba and Statia which are also in the hurricane belt, what explanation will any self-respecting politician give to the people as a reason for not embarking onto solar energy?
If they seriously want to help the people don’t promise them anything that you know that you can avoid with a silly excuse tomorrow. There is no reinventing the wheel necessary. Show the political will and let us get things going for the people. Guarantee us a stable government, come together, forget and avoid the deal-making, which we know causes jail time, and start by embarking on solar energy.
Russell A. Simmons
My grown-up daughter is good-looking, but she has a loud voice and talks so much that she doesn’t give other people a chance to speak. She complains that men are not attracted to her and I think this is why.
Queenie, do you think she can change this part of herself?—Worried mother
This is not a matter of basic personality, but of behaviour, so, yes, I think she can change if she is willing to try very hard.
She might want to have her hearing checked, too, as a hearing problem may be part of the reason she talks so loudly. If that is the case, hearing aids would help her to hear herself better and so might help her keep her voice down.