Last week’s report on US $2.1 million worth of equipment and materials for the landfill was encouraging. Machinery provided by the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund under the Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP) has been transferred to the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI that previously rented such.
In addition to improving the dump’s management, facilitating sustainable waste solutions was mentioned. One of the still-pending issues is the necessary relocation of residents in that area.
The National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) recently announced developing a Resettlement Action Plan with support of a local consultant, calling it a “complex process” whereby the “do no harm” principle is leading. This socioeconomic assessment, of which a final draft was under revision, will serve to calculate so-called “compensation packages” for the people being forced to move.
But to structurally tackle St. Maarten’s growing garbage crisis, a complete change in how trash is deposited, transported and managed must take place. This starts with proper trash separation by citizens as well as businesses and ends with recycling all possible, while minimising what remains and its impact on nature.
Adequate bins and other modern facilities will be required, so the next contracts of garbage collectors should include these as condition. Even if some pre-sorted solid waste cannot yet be fully processed by then, one at least needs to start somewhere.