You get what you pay for

You get what you pay for

The latest news on the resettlement of communities close to the sanitary landfill (see related story) raises hope that a long-overdue proper waste management system for St. Maarten will finally be realised. Some had questioned why this necessary move of residents and businesses from areas considered at risk of air, soil and water pollution as well as collapsing “mount garbage” slopes being executed by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) with full backing of government was taking so much time to start.

However, it is a rather large and far-reaching undertaking, not in the least for those living and working there. Moreover, involvement of the Trust Fund managed by the World Bank means strict environmental and social safeguards with human rights and safety guidelines exist for compulsory relocation.

Surveys and consultations among those directly affected were held to get input for the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). They are to be compensated according to an asset valuation methodology based on the World Bank’s policy for such cases.

The entire process is estimated to take 12 to 18 months and end in the first quarter of 2024. That’s when results of the US $85 million being invested under the Emergency Debris Management Project (EDMP) will become increasingly visible, including construction of a facility to identify and sort incoming trash, enabling adequate disposal in line with regional and international standards.

Government must do its part by working on an Integrated Solid Waste Management with assistance from the association of Dutch municipalities VNG. This also entails establishing a Solid Waste Authority that will take over EDMP’s supervisory task after five years.

By then tangible progress will hopefully have been made in tackling the nature-unfriendly dump on Pond Island that has grown into a major eyesore near the country’s capital Philipsburg. Future changes may understandably require introducing a garbage collection fee, which – if reasonable – most people would not mind for optimal and environmentally responsible processing.

In that sense the adage “you get what you pay for” seems appropriate.

The Daily Herald

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