The story headlined “Most dump residents, businesses want cash compensation for resettlement” in Thursday’s paper prompted quite few reactions. Many asked how mainly undocumented immigrants often illegally occupying public land there are now being rewarded with a payout.
On the other hand, Member of Parliament (MP) William Marlin during the recent Inter-Parliamentary Kingdom Consultation in Bonaire expressed concern about property intended for social housing at Foga being used to build homes for this group. However, simply throwing them into the street empty-handed would never be an option for any self-respecting country.
The move is required as part of efforts to secure and better manage the landfill using means from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund administered by the World Bank. Everyone familiar with St. Maarten’s huge waste-processing challenges will agree that this an urgent project.
And let’s face it, government tolerated these illicit practices on Pond Island far too long, to the point where those involved can practically derive so-called “custom rights” from indirectly creating the impression they could stay there. When unlawful situations are knowingly allowed to persist, there is a tendency to consider them “normal” and enforcement becomes complicated.
One advantage of money is that some especially without a job and/or income who get it may decide to leave the island. People gainfully employed will probably be less inclined to do so.
It might be good if attempts could also be made to regulate the latter’s status where justified, so that authorities don’t again turn a blind eye to such realities and instead try to handle them in a reasonable and humane manner. Persons who work should also pay social and health premiums as well as taxes rather than remaining “under the radar” with all possible consequences.