The presentation by the Steering Group for the reconstruction of St. Maarten in The Hague (see related story) will hopefully help change some of the relatively negative narrative on the continued recovery from monster Hurricane Irma to a more positive tone. A lot has been and is still being accomplished in various areas to improve circumstances on the ground.
While there’s no denying the impression that certain projects could go a bit faster, many factors not always known in detail to the general public often play a role. Instead of only complaining that things are moving too slowly, the focus should be on contributing where possible to help speed them up.
There is no reason whatsoever to believe anyone involved, neither the Netherlands that sponsored the Trust Fund of half-a-billion euros in the first place nor the World Bank that manages it, is purposely delaying the process. To the contrary, they obviously want nothing more than to successfully get the job done but, as St. Maarten’s representative Marcel Gumbs put it, “in the right way, correct way.”
Of course, the “building back bigger and better” of Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), the Fire Suppression project at the dump, removing boat wrecks and other debris from Simpson Bay Lagoon and surroundings, the new hospital, storm-resistance investments at utilities provider GEBE and increased home repairs are all eagerly awaited. However, one cannot overlook what has already been done such as offering skills upgrading courses with pay to 1,077 persons left un- or underemployed.
Many roofs and homes were also fixed with Dutch and local funding by a host of non-governmental organisations and other aid entities both on- and off-island, but also via St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF), etc., while government’s own programme is finally getting on track.
The truth is that rebuilding St. Maarten will take time and much effort by a great number of people, but requires trying to work with, rather than against, one another.