Focus (2)

Soualiga Newsday Focus (3396)

Actions taken by VROMI and Police against permit holder in Simpson Bay who failed to comply

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In co-operation with several other government agencies, the police had conducted an action at one of the Simpson Bay license establishments.

The permit holders had placed a wooden shack and several plant containers on the public road without obtaining a permit.

The license holders have already been summoned by the Police and VROMI to remove the displayed objects from the public road which they declined to do.

In response to a reminder from the Community Police Officer about the removal of the objects, a manager advised the police that they were not planning to do so and that the police would have to take care of it themselves if they wished to have the objects removed.

On June 28, 2002, the VROMI personnel with the supervision of the police removed the illegally placed objects from the public road. The permit holder was issued a fine in accordance to the (APK) the General Police Ordinance.

The Police of Sint Maarten are requesting permit holders to comply with the conditions attached to their permit and to also take into account that a permit must be obtained for any other adjustments needed on the public road. (KPSM)

police vromi opr2




Blocking roads, spreading manure is unacceptable, PM says to farmers

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Prime minister Mark Rutte has told protesting farmers that creating dangerous situations on the roads and the intimidation of politicians and others is totally unacceptable and ‘nothing to do with the right to demonstrate’.

The measures which the government is planning to introduce are ‘far reaching’ for a lot of people, but are also necessary to tackle the problems, Rutte said at a short press conference ahead of a parliamentary debate on the plans to meet pollution targets.

Justice minister Dilan Yeşilgöz denied that the police are being slow to tackle the problems. ‘There have been arrests, lots of fines have been handed out, and if need be, police can also confiscate tractors,’ she said.

The police, justice ministry and mayors are working together to control the protests as they arise, she said. ‘But sometimes it is necessary to de-escalate situations to prevent the risk to others,’ she told reporters.

Meanwhile, a few farmers have been gathering outside the parliamentary complex following a call to action by radical farmers’ groups. Some have also brought livestock with them as well as their tractors.

Officials in The Hague have warned that the police will intervene if the farmers block roads or cause problems for other residents.

Second day

Tuesday is the second day of action by farmers who are angry that some may have to close their operations to meet national pollution targets.

‘On June 28, we will show what halving the number of livestock in the Netherlands means,’ one call to action said. ‘We will make it clear what choices are facing farmers thanks to this government’s sick-making strategy’.

Appropriate action

However, national farmers association LTO Nederland has also called on protesting farmers to take ‘appropriate and worthy’ action and not to break the law. ‘This is the way we can keep public support,’ LTO chairman Sjaak van der Tak said.

At the same time, Van der Tak called on MPs to ‘intercept in the impossible, unrealistic policy drawn up by the minister for nature and nitrogen. There should be ‘no impractical 50% reduction [in nitrogen emissions] by 2030,’ he said in a YouTube statement.

On Monday, farmers blocked roads, threatened to dump manure at a nature reserve, chopped down trees and drove their tractors to town halls. The protests started on Tuesday with hay bale fires alongside several motorways, which also led to delays and traffic jams.



Armed robbery at Tefaf art fair in Maastricht, police hunt two men

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Police are hunting two men after an armed robbery at the Tefaf art fair in Maastricht, during which visitors were apparently threatened with guns.

Two Belgian nationals have already been arrested in connection with the heist, and had an unspecified amount of jewelry with them. Camera footage shows four men, wearing smart clothes, caps and glasses, next to a glass case where diamonds brought by London-based dealer, possibly Symbolic & Chase, were on display.

One begins trying to smash the case with a sledgehammer while another holds what looks like a gun, which he pointed at visitors to keep them at a distance. Eyewitnesses said more than one of the gang was carrying a weapon.

A short while later, one of the gang can be seen putting something in a bag, at which point they jog off.

The gang managed to get away, but details of how they left the MECC are still unclear. According to broadcaster RTL, they may have made off via the restaurant.

Eyewitnesses told the Telegraaf newspaper the gang appeared to have a specific target. ‘All the stand holders were led outside by security quickly,’ Robbert van Ham from the Jaski Art Gallery told the paper.

‘There was no panic, even if it was a little tense because there was talk of guns being involved.’ The police said later on Tuesday the two men who had been arrested were Belgian nationals aged 22 and 26.

They were stopped in a grey car with Belgian plates on the A2 motorway. The Tefaf fine art fair runs until June 30 and attracts dealers and buyers from all over the world.

The Tefaf organisers said in a short statement that no-one had been hurt in the robbery and that it would make no further comment.



Family doctors start week of protests, no disruption of services

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Family doctors in the Netherlands have started a week of ‘public friendly’ protests to highlight the pressure on surgeries and urge the government to include measures to reduce their workload in its long-term health care plans.

Family doctors have been gradually taking on more tasks that used to be done by specialists at hospitals. Referrals also take longer, which means patients spend more time in the care of their family doctor.

Doctors say insurers are taking accountability too far and more trust in their medical decisions would reduce the time they spend filling in forms and other paperwork.

They are also are calling on local councils to provide more affordable practice accommodation.

There will be no disruption for patients, family doctor and protest organiser Aart Verdaasdonk told broadcaster NOS.

Verdaasdonk, whose practice has been decked out with buckets filled to the brim with water to show his list of tasks is close to overflowing, said he wants more time to spend on his patients who are now often left with questions following a consultation.

Doctors also want general practices, ambulance services and emergency departments to work more closely together. The week concludes with a protest meeting at the Malieveld in The Hague on Friday.



Farmers blockade more motorways in protests against closure plans

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – New farmers’ protests brought traffic to a standstill on several motorways around the country on Monday, despite police warnings not to break the law.

Around 15 tractors blocked the A2 at Best, in the direction of Den Bosch, by laying hay bales across the carriageway. Similar blockades were set up on the A67 at Liessel, between Eindhoven and Venlo, and on the A28 between Hoogeveen and Assen.

Tractors also blocked an access road to the N35 at Ommen, Overijssel. The ANWB said queues of up to 8km had built up at the protest locations.

Protest organisers including Agractie and Farmers Defence Force (FDF) warned motorists to expect disruption on the roads from noon, but denied that they were co-ordinating the action.

In a video message, FDF leader Mark van den Oever said last week’s mass protest by 40,000 farmers in Stroe, Gelderland, had ‘achieved nothing’ and further action was needed.

Farmers are protesting against the government’s plans to reduce the size of the agricultural sectors to comply with European conservation laws.

A Council of State ruling three years ago has forced the government to come up with wide-ranging measures to cut emissions from nitrogen compounds such as nitrous oxide and ammonia by up to 70% in some areas.

Christianne van der Wal, the minister responsible for tackling the so-called nitrogen crisis, has said some farmers will have to give up their businesses.

Opposition parties such as the Farmer-Citizen Movement (BBB) have queried the scientific basis for the reforms and said other sectors such as construction and aviation should share the burden of cutting emissions.

Police have warned farmers that they risk being fined if they protest by driving tractors on the motorway. ‘It’s fine to exercise your rights, but tractors are banned on the motorway,’ a spokesman said.



Banning tourists from cannabis cafes will cut back on crime: Halsema

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam’s cannabis cafes are often intertwined with serious crime and play a serious role in money laundering, the capital’s mayor Femke Halsema has told councillors, ahead of Wednesday’s debate on refusing entry to tourists.

Closing coffee shops which are involved in criminal activities is both complicated and time consuming, the mayor is quoted as saying by the Parool. But by banning the sale of soft drugs to tourists, the cannabis market will shrink and become less interesting for organised crime.

This makes a ban on access for tourists is an unavoidable, temporary move in efforts to get the soft drugs market under control, the mayor told councillors, referring to police report De narcostand van Nederland, which was published earlier this year.

Halsema said in January last year that she wanted to ban non residents from the city’s cannabis cafes, but the previous and current coalition are both highly sceptical. In particular, they say the move will boost street dealing.

Research indicates that just 66 of the capital’s 166 coffee shops are needed to support the local population’s cannabis consumption. Joachim Helms, from the local coffee shop association, told the Parool he was ‘shocked’ that Halsema was using the police report to justify her claims.

‘There maybe some rotten apples around, but the mayor has enough powers to withdraw their licence,’ he said. ‘Coffee shops are too often seen as glorified coke dealers.’


The city council is due to debate introducing a ban on non-residents using the coffee shops – which is the situation in the rest of the country – on Wednesday.

According to the Parool, Halsema has pledged not to press ahead with the plan without council support, because of the ‘major social and economic impact on the city’.



SMYC 2021 – 2022 Sailing School Season concluded with Diploma Ceremony for 70 students

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Sint Maarten Yacht Club’s (SMYC) Sailing School offers after school sailing lessons from September – June, each year and this year’s season was concluded with a diploma ceremony to highlight the sailing skills of its 70 sailing students. These students sail on weekdays and are between 7 and 18 years old. Students were presented with progress reports and diplomas depending on their level of sailing.

Parents, family, and friends gathered at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club Dock where the ceremony was held. The sailing instructors called forward their groups one at a time and highlighted the accomplishments of the students individually. Diplomas were given to those students who reached a certain level of sailing. Those who were in between those levels were given a progress report to show what skills they can further improve on to reach a level.

“We have seen amazing growth this sailing season and lots of enthusiasm. Some kids only joined the program earlier this year and can still take home an impressive progress report. Those who didn’t collect a diploma can still be very proud of themselves as they have learned so much throughout this year”. Said head coach Sam Peeks.

Sailing is known to enhance life skills, providing self-esteem, social skills and hands-on skill-based confidence. In addition, it creates a more motivated and focused attitude, a positive awareness of the outdoors and offers a platform to make new friendships.

This past week saw 9 advanced sailing students participate in the Assistant Sailing Instructor Course that teaches them to assist with sailing lessons. Of these 9 students, 5 had already started assisting from January onwards and were joined by 4 new students. The course consists of understanding the different skill levels, creating instructor manuals and safety. They will start teaching together with fully certified instructors and over time will become more independent, with the ultimate goal to run their own classes.

“Being able to sail yourself is very different from being able to teach someone how to sail. This course allows some of our more advanced students to gain this perspective and knowledge so they can assist with our after-school sailing lessons on a weekly basis. Besides learning the theory behind teaching how to sail, we also spent significant time on the water allowing the students to practice teaching”. Explained Saskia Revelman, Sailing School Manager.

Sailing lessons will restart in September, until then children who are interested in sailing can sign up for the Summer Camp that runs from June 26 – Aug 5. The summer camps focus on sailing to teach the basics and sail to beautiful spots like Friar’s Bay and Little Bay. This is all combined with watersports activities like snorkeling and kayaking, treasure hunts, and much more. Making it both and educational and fun program.

The registration for sailing lessons for the 2022-2023 season is now open on For more information about sailing lessons or summer camp please reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




We are the worst in Europe, minister tells MPs during nitrogen debate

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Nature and nitrogen minister Christianne van der Wal has told MPs she has no option but to take action to reduce nitrogen compound pollution because of its impact on vulnerable habitats.

Van der Wal outlined her plans two weeks ago, which ‘unavoidably’ include the compulsory closure of some farms near reserves, prompting a mass protest by farmers earlier this week.

Speaking during a heated debate on the government’s strategy, Van der Wal said that more would become clear about the plans in the coming year. ‘Unfortunately, there is no clarity for the farmers at the moment,’ she said.

The minister also said that a map showing where action needed to be taken was to give an idea of where changes needed to be made. It is up to farmers and the provincial authorities in the coming year to decide how the targets can be met, she said.

Nationwide, the amount of nitrogen compound emissions must be cut by 50% by 2030. ‘We are bottom of the class in Europe when it comes to protecting our habitats,’ she said. ‘I have been told to do our homework.

Europe is not willing [to be flexible] because we have not stuck to the agreements.’


Farm minister Henk Staghouwer also faced criticism from MPs from across the political spectrum, particularly for his failure to develop a plan which will help farmers financially.

A majority, including those from his own party ChristenUnie, called on the minister to draw up a more coherent plan by the budget in September.


Meanwhile, infrastructure minister Mark Harbers has confirmed that 14 major road and waterway projects have been delayed by years, partly because of the shortage of experts in dealing with nitrogen-based pollution.

The construction of roads and waterways requires an assessment of the likely impact of the pollution generated by the work, but a lack of expertise in this field has led to ‘difficult choices’ about what projects should be given priority.

Plans to expand a number of motorways, such as the A58 between Eindhoven and Tilburg and the A7 and A8 between Amsterdam and Hoorn are among those which have been put on ice.

But improvements to the A4 around The Hague will go ahead, Harbers said.



Human rights council slams rise in online aggression in public debate

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Intimidation and aggression are a growing problem facing everyone involved in public debate, and social media platforms should be taking more responsibility for ensuring online safety, the Dutch human rights council College voor de Rechten van de Mens says in its latest annual report.

This year the report’s main theme is that of freedom of speech which is coming increasingly under pressure, chairwoman Jacobine Geel said. ‘Debate is increasingly being replaced by online and offline shouting matches, insults and threats, or even physical violence.’

Journalists, politicians, experts, academics, columnists and bloggers are all increasingly being targeted and ‘this has consequences for all of us,’ she said.

Nature minister Christianne van der Wal and virologist Marion Koopmans are among two of the most recent victims.

Andreas Voss, a member of the government’s coronavirus task force has spoken about an ‘anonymous letter with letters cut out of a newspaper’, while anti-Zwarte Piet campaigner Jeffrey Afriyie and his family were threatened with death.

Women in particular face gender-related threats, including sexist and belittling comments, as well as being threatened with sexual violence.


The government has taken some steps to reduce aggression against journalists and politicians and is working on more plans to protect others, the council said.

In addition, the Chamber of Trade has finally agreed to remove addresses from parts of its public register and legislation is being introduced which will ban doxing, or spreading people’s address online without permission.

At the same time, online companies such as Meta and Twitter should do more to tackle hatred and calls for violence online, the council said.

It has published a string of recommendations for the government, ranging from urging the police to give higher priority to tracking down those making the threats to doing more to tackle online misinformation.



Over-60s urged to coronavirus vaccine top-up as new cases mount

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Healthcare minister Ernst Kuipers has called on the general public to stick to the basic coronavirus rules and urged the over-60s who have not yet had a second booster vaccination to come forward.

So far, just 40% to 59% of people entitled to a fourth vaccination (herhaalprik) have taken up the offer, depending on where they live.

Extra measures to control the spread of the virus are not yet needed, the minister told reporters after a meeting of cabinet ministers which was called to discuss the rising infection rate.

The number of positive tests recorded by regional health board testing centres, which focus on nursing staff and people who need an official document to travel, has risen 70% over the past week, and more people have also been hospitalised with serious complaints.

The increase makes the basic rules more relevant again, Kuipers said. ‘Wash your hands, ventilate closed spaces and keep your distance where possible,’ he said. People should also be especially careful around those with vulnerable health.

The minister said he was not surprised by the rise in cases because ‘we know the virus has not gone’. However, the impact of the flare up on hospital staff and absenteeism rates is currently the most pressing cause for concern, he said.


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