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Soualiga News II (3832)

Ban on single use plastic now a fact

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - The ban on single use plastic is now a reality. The waste ordinance for the banning of single use plastic materials and single use shopping bags has been approved. The ordinance is in effect as of April 1st, 2021.

The main goal for implementing the ban is to reduce the amount of waste generated on the island and to create a cleaner environment for inhabitants and visitors.

Grace period

Stakeholders will be given a reasonable length grace period of two (2) months to use-up their current stock of single used products and a period of six (6) months to use-up all single use shopping bags. After this period elapses all remaining banned items must be destroyed. The Public Entity has agreed to adapt a phase out approach of the now used products. The phase out approach commenced April 1st, 2021 which is the implementation date of the ordinance and ends two to six months, depending on the product.The list of products that will be restricted are single use shopping bags, plastic straws, plastic stirrers, plastic utensils, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic soup bowls, plastic cotton swabs, plastic balloon confetti. Also Styrofoam food containers and cups are prohibited.  

Alternative

To facilitate the process, the Public Entity St. Eustatius agrees to distribute ‘free of charge’ alternative materials to registered stakeholders. “This way we allow the stakeholders to sample alternative materials as it relates to quality, durability and size of the alternative materials. It is an effort to assist with their decision making process on which materials to buy,” says Arlene Spanner, Policy Advisor Economic Development at ENI.

Ministry Netherlands

The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management of the Netherlands is committed to assist St. Eustatius with the banning of single use plastics. A declaration of intent was signed between the State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management and the Public Entity St. Eustatius in July 2019. In December 2019 a decision was taken by the executive council to form an integral work group that would facilitate the planning and execution. (Statia GIS)

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Statia’s School Transportation improved with introduction new school buses

SINT EUSTATIUS (ORANJESTAD) - At the start of the first quarter 2021, the Public Entity St. Eustatius completed the purchase of two new school buses. They will be used primarily for the transportation of students attending the primary schools. The buses are now ready for use.

Through the budget amendment of the first quarter 2020, the Public Entity provided the necessary finances to purchase the long awaiting buses.

The two white Hyundai buses are fully air-conditioned and holds a capacity of thirty (30) seats. It also has a built-in intercom system which ease the communication between the driver and the students. They are branded and recognizable to the community with the coat of arms and the wording “SCHOOL BUS” on both sides as well as on the front and the back.  

Tint

A light tint was applied to the windows to improve the acclimatization of the bus and to protect the students from the direct sunlight. The applied tint will also help to preserve the longevity of the bus interior.

Care

“The school buses are the property of the Public Entity, but they belong to the entire community. They provide a valuable service by transporting our children and students to and from school and recreational activities. We request those using the buses to take special care of them,” says Anthony Reid, Director of Economy Nature and Infrastructure. (Statia GIS)

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WHAT IS NEXT AT SXM-AIRPORT??

SINT MAARTEN (COMMENTARY – By Michael Ferrier) - So now that the educated local professional has been fired (unceremoniously, I might add), who will get the job to run things at PJIAE?
What will be the requirements for the new CEO?
Must it be a man? Can it be a woman?
Must he/she be a “born-here”?
Must he/she have a specific skin color?
Must he/she come from a specific cultural background
Must he/she have experience in (re-)building international airports?
Must he/she have experience in professionally running an international airport?
Must he/she be able to think for him/herself?
Must he/she be able to on a high level deal with financiers, bondholders, bankers, lawyers and government?
Must he/she be capable of and prepared to kiss butts?
When asked to jump, must he/she have the frame of mind not to ask “why”, but “how high”?

Answers to these questions may give the island population a better insight in what could be the next chapter in the saga of getting the airport fully restored, up and running sooner than later. After all, it IS the MOST IMPORTANT piece of infrastructure for St. Maarten, is it not?
A final question, the answer of which should be smoked out and laid bare, is: WHO IS PULLING WHOSE STRINGS at our once AWARD-WINNING International Airport, still in shambles 3 years and 7 months after Hurricane IRMA?

Michael J. Ferrier

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Construction new KNMI monitoring station well on its way

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Works to construct a new monitoring station of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) on the northern coast of Saba are progressing steadily. A team of Dutch military personnel, stationed in St. Maarten, has been carrying the materials along the North Coast Trail to the location on Grey Hill where a KNMI team is constructing the new monitoring station.

Military personnel on Thursday, April 8, ahead of time, completed the heavy task of carrying some 2000 kilograms of material on foot along the North Coast Trail, covering a difference in altitude of some 300 meters. On multiple trips per day, the men carried a number of very heavy items up the rough, mountainous trek to Grey Hill, such as a generator, a large satellite dish, the solar panels and the casing for the electronics. They also carried multiple bags with concrete and a load of water, necessary to mix concrete for the construction of the monitoring station and its foundations.

The KNMI team of four have constructed the foundation and the walls of the enclosure that will hold the seismic equipment. The team on Thursday started the construction of the frame for the solar panels. The foundation for the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) was constructed, and the cables were laid in the cable ducts. The mast for the satellite dish has been installed. The construction of the monitoring station needs to be robust as it has to be able to withstand strong winds.

The monitoring station consists of a GNSS and a seismometer. With the GNSS, deformations of the Mt. Scenery volcano can be precisely measured. The seismometer registers local and regional earthquakes, and this data will also be used for tsunami warnings. The measuring station on Saba’s North Coast is extra special, because it operates completely independent: the solar panels generate electricity while the satellite dish transmits the data.

On Thursday, April 8, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson visited the location, whereby he presented a Saba pin to Sergeant-Major Marine Frank. The military personnel arrived on Saba on April 5 and will return to St. Maarten shortly. A number of military personnel have already left Saba. The KNMI team will remain on the island a bit longer to complete the construction of the monitoring station and to inspect, and if necessary, repair the other monitoring stations, located in various parts of the island.

SGIS group photo KNMI marines Jonathan Marjolein

The KNMI team (at right) with Dutch Defense personnel and Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Advisor Crisis Management Marjolein Veneman (at left)

SGIS Defense personnel carrying material on North Coast trail

Military personnel had the strenuous task to carry some 2,000 kilograms in material up to Grey Hill along the rough North Coast Trail.

SGIS Construction for concrete enclosure for seismic meter

The construction of the concrete enclusure fort he seismic meter.

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Construction greenhouse for senior citizens completed

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The construction of a new greenhouse adjacent to the hospital in The Bottom has been completed. The wheelchair accessible greenhouse was built for clients of the LIFE Center, a program for the senior citizens.

Clients of the LIFE Center program joined Commissioner of Health Care and Agriculture Rolando Wilson, head of the Planning Bureau Bobby Zagers, Planning Bureau project manager Evita Pronk, head of the Agricultural Department Randall Johnson and representatives of the Saba LIFE Center in a visit to the location earlier this week.

Construction of the 22ft. by 12ft. greenhouse by Donisa Construction started late February and was completed late March. The structure is made of wood and has netting on the sides so wind can pass through it. The greenhouse has shelves for the plants at wheelchair height. There is a wheelchair ramp, put in place by Work Monster, the company that also poured the foundation of the greenhouse.

Commissioner Wilson said he was content that the project had been completed so swiftly. He thanked the contractors. He pointed out that there are multiple benefits to this project. “Not only will this help to keep the clients of LIFE Center healthy, strong and active, but it will also give them the opportunity to grow their own plants and vegetables, do something that they like,” he said.

The LIFE Center is a program of the Benevolent Foundation Saba, the foundation that runs the care home, located next to the medical center. The construction of the greenhouse is the first part of a more comprehensive outdoor recreation area that the Benevolent Foundation wants to establish for the clients of The Home and the LIFE Center. The greenhouse will be further fitted by the Benevolent Foundation, and officially opened at a later date.

Some of the materials to grow plants have already been ordered, while donations of additional materials are most welcome. This comprehensive project has several advantages for the clients: it promotes healthy eating, offers recreational activities in the fresh air, and being engaged in outside activities together reduces loneliness.

The US $21,000 greenhouse project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), the Public Entity Saba and the Benevolent Foundation. A similar greenhouse has also been constructed at the Sacred Heart School so children can learn about growing their own vegetables.

Greenhouse Life Center 01

 

 

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Week-long Shark Research to be Conducted in St. Maarten Waters

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - During the week of April 11, 2021, members from the Nature Foundation St. Maarten, the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA), the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), and Beneath the Waves will be conducting shark research in the territorial waters of St. Maarten. This activity is a part of a wider research project into Tiger Sharks in the region funded by World Wild Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. The goal of the week-long project is to gather data on sharks in Sint Maarten and for participants to be trained in ultrasonography technology to later determine whether the Saba Bank is a breeding area for tiger sharks in the Eastern Caribbean. The week-long project will be called the ‘Shark Shakedown’.

Tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) are large, apex predators found throughout the world on coral reefs, pelagic environments, and oceanic atolls, including the Saba Bank. A previous study by Wageningen University showed that the Saba Bank might be an important nursery area for tiger sharks. Tiger sharks are currently categorized as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Currently, however, there is little data regarding the reproductive biology of tiger sharks.

The high-definition ultrasound technology the team will be using has been created by E. I. Medical Imaging and pioneered by collaborator Dr. James Sulikowski, of Arizona State University. This technology has successfully been used to identify maturity state and the stage of pregnancy in various shark species. This methodology will be used to produce an image of the inside of a shark which will help determine the presence and reproductive stage of female tiger sharks present on the Saba Bank, including their movement patterns outside the boundaries of the Dutch Caribbean. Tiger sharks are a transboundary species, meaning they travel and live in more than one area or country.

The information gained from this research will provide a better understanding of the importance of both the status of sharks in Sint Maarten’s territorial waters and in the Yarari Sanctuary and the role these ecosystems play in the life-cycle of tiger sharks in the wider Caribbean Region.

Additionally, the data will provide vital information for conservation strategies not only in the Dutch Caribbean, but the wider Caribbean as a whole. A week-long expedition to the Saba Bank is currently scheduled for August 2021.

Though tiger sharks occur in the region, they spend most of their time offshore in deeper water and are rarely recorded close to shore. Unfortunately, there have been two incidents in previous months involving negative shark/ human interactions: one in St. Martin and one in St. Kitts. The week-long project will also investigate if there is any change in the behavior and distribution of sharks in the area. Tiger sharks play key roles in maintaining the balance within local and regional marine ecosystems and are critical to the health of the Marine Biodiversity of the Wider Caribbean Region.

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Assistance for Saba’s goat owners

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - The Public Entity Saba is cognizant of the challenges that owners of free-roaming goats face in the transition process of the goat control project, and will therefore provide additional forms of assistance to help goat owners remove and/or control their goats.

This additional assistance consists of a four-month extension of the first grace period, the availability of a meat-processing unit as well as chiller and freezer units, the investigation of possible markets to sell goat meat abroad, help with the shooting of goats and the recovery of carcasses, time off for civil servants to shoot their goats, the availability of ammunition, subsidized fencing and building materials for pens, subsidized veterinary care, assistance with animal food, and access to a goat-farming advisor.

An explanation on these additional forms of assistance was provided in a letter signed by Island Governor Jonathan Johnson that was delivered to the goat owners last week.

Additional time

Initially, goat owners were granted a grace period of three months from October to December 2020 to remove their goats with the possibility to request an extension of another three months. The Public Entity Saba decided to grant goat owners an additional four-month extension, giving them extra time to remove their goats. The extended grace period runs from January 1 to April 30, 2021. Goat owners can also, under certain conditions, request an additional term of three months maximum at the end of the second grace period from April 30. With the two grace periods and the possibility to request an additional term, goat owners will have been given 10 months in total to remove their goats.

As already planned, the removal of goats will start in the Mt. Scenery National Park, and the areas of the waste management facility and Fort Bay Road. Several owners of free-roaming goats are also civil servants. The Public Entity Saba will grant these goat owners who are civil servants time off to remove their animals.

Processing, storing and selling of goat carcasses

To accommodate the butchering of goats during the goat control project and thereafter, the Public Entity Saba will make available a 20-ft meat-processing unit for goat owners. The unit has been purchased and should arrive this month. With this unit, goat owners can still butcher their goats in the traditional way, but now in a more efficient, controlled and hygienic manner. The meat-processing unit was customized in close consultation with the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to ensure that goat carcasses processed in this unit can meet the legal requirements of preparing and trading food products in the Caribbean Netherlands.

To ensure there is adequate freezer storage capacity to store the goat carcasses during the goat control project, the Public Entity Saba will make a 20-ft chiller container and a 20-ft freezer container available to goat owners. The units have been purchased and should arrive this month with the meat-processing unit. They too were customized in close consultation with the NVWA. One of the limiting factors for goat owners to shoot more goats was lack of storage. These container units were purchased to address this problem. These units will also be used after the project has ended and animal husbandry has further developed for the butchering of different types of livestock.

Goat owners are responsible for the sale of their own goat meat. The Saba government will investigate for free-roaming goat owners whether the option of a viable market/avenue through which they can sell carcasses to neighboring islands is available.

Shooting of goats and carcass recovery

To assist goat owners with ammunition to shoot their goats, the Public Entity Saba purchased 3,750 rounds of ammunition in the Netherlands. The ammunition is available to the goat owners via the local reseller. The goat control project paid for the transportation to Saba.

During the grace period, goat owners can, under certain conditions, receive additional assistance from the invasive species specialists to shoot their goats. After the grace period and when no additional term has been requested or granted, the specialists will come to each zone to shoot the remaining goats. Goat owners can request specified days for access to these restricted zones to shoot, which will be accommodated where reasonable.

The Public Entity Saba will provide additional manpower, under certain conditions, to goat owners to help bring back the carcasses of the goats that they shoot during the grace period. Assistance to recover carcasses will only be extended to areas where the goat owners shoot and go themselves to recover carcasses and in areas which are deemed reasonably safe.

Goats in fences

The Public Entity Saba wants to ensure that goats are ultimately kept behind fences and will therefore also help goat owners to ensure that their animals are properly fenced, have water, food and shelter, and are given the necessary care. Subsidized fencing and other building materials will be made available to help the goat owners with the initial investment and start-up costs of fencing in their animals. Also, the goat owners can make use of subsidized veterinary care in case their animals get sick. The Public Entity Saba aims to assist with food for goats that are fenced in and is currently investigating ways in which this can be made possible for not only goat owners, but also other livestock owners. To improve their farms, animal husbandry techniques and business models, goat farmers can be given access to a goat farming advisor.

Within short, the public will receive another update, focusing on the planning of the goat control project and what can be expected going forward.

Goats in the bush

 

 

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Front Street armed robbers shot by police. One dead and one wounded

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The Central Dispatch received several calls about an armed robbery in progress at a jewelry store on Front Street on Wednesday morning at approximately 10.45 am, the police said in a statement.

Several patrols and detective personnel were immediately directed to the location. Shortly after the robbery, the Central Dispatch received additional suspect information that three men on two scooters, all dressed in dark clothing had robbed the jewelry store a few minutes prior to the call.

After robbing the store, they continued up Front Street in the direction of Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard. Based on information received, a police patrol spotted a scooter matching the description and attempted to intercept the suspects in the vicinity of the Freedom Fighters roundabout.

Upon sighting of the police patrol one of the scooter riders fled in the direction of Sucker Garden road. The second scooter took off at high speed in the direction of the Nisbeth road toward the Salt Pickers roundabout. Chase was given and shots were fired on Arch Road, leaving one suspect dead. The other suspect on the same scooter was wounded and later rushed to Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) for treatment.

Immediately several police patrols, detectives, Forensic investigators, and paramedics were dispatched to the scene to conduct the initial police investigation into what had exactly taken place. The area was immediately cordoned off for the different departments, to collect evidence and for detectives to speak to potential witnesses.

The identity of the suspects has not yet been established. The investigation is in its preliminary stages and more details are unavailable at this time. As soon as more information becomes available the public will be informed.

Anyone with information with about this or any of armed robberies that have taken place over the last weeks, should contact SUR detectives via + 1 721 542 2222 ext. 203, 204 or 205, the anonymous tip line 9300, send a private message via Facebook Page: Police Force of Sint Maarten - Korps Politie Sint Maarten or website www.policesxm.sx. (KPSM)

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Two arrests, house searches related to sexual abuse of minors

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Complaints about sexual abuse against minors involving an elementary school employee and her neighbor led to their arrests early today, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, by the Juvenile Department of the Police KPSM on the order of the Prosecutor’s Office OM SXM.

The houses of the two suspects were searched as part of the ongoing “Pandora” investigation that is also looking into child pornography. A firearm and a quantity of marijuana were found and confiscated from one of the houses. Data carriers were confiscated from both houses.

The investigation is ongoing and the suspects - J.D.W. and B.E.H.S. remain in police custody.

One of the suspects is a (suspended) school employee who targeted her victims at school. The (alleged) abuse later took place when the victims attended after-school tutoring at the suspect’s home.

The abuse of the minors took place at the homes of the suspects over prolonged periods of time starting from around 2010. The time span of the abuse differs based on each victim’s contact with the arrestees. In the case of one victim, the abuse occurred on the premise of an elementary school. The abuse of another victim took place in 2019 and during the 2020 lockdown when the child was at tutoring classes at the home of one of the arrestees.

Aside from complaints of sexual abuse, one complainant stated that photographs of the victim(s) were taken by the school employee and shared with the second arrestee, who is her neighbor.

All of the victims in this case are/were below the age of 13 at the time they were abused by the suspects.

Cases involving the sexual abuse of minors are considered as heinous by OM SXM and KPSM as they target the most vulnerable in the community – children.

OM SXM and KPSM are cognizant that cases like this are very emotional ones and urges parents and guardians not to let emotions guide actions. The police and OM SXM are working diligently on tackling such cases for the safety of the community and in particular our children.

OM SXM and KPSM encourage everyone in the community to be mindful about the welfare of all children and to report any and all instances of sexual abuse whether against minors or adults. To report (sexual) abuse, call KPSM on + 1 721 554-2222, extension 501.

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Traffic Department investigating a pick-up truck and motorcycle accident on the L.B. Scott road

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The personnel of the Traffic Department are investigating a serious accident that took place on Sunday April 4th, 2021 about 2.45 pm on the crossing L.B. Scott road and the Flamboyant road.

Upon investigation into what transpired, it was discovered that the driver of a grey pick-up and the driver of a motorcycle were both travelling in the same direction from St Peters towards the Church-hill roundabout.

At a given moment, the driver of the pickup opted to turn left to enter onto Flamboyant road. At the very same time, the gray-pick-up was being overtaken by the rider of the motorcycle who collided with the front side the pick-up.  

Due to the collision the motorcycle rider received injuries to his face and back. He was treated at the scene by the personnel of the ambulance and later transported to the Sint Maarten Medical Center.

The Traffic Department personnel could not do any investigation on the motorcycle involved in the accident, as unknown persons had removed the motorcycle from the scene of the collision prior to the arrival of patrols or Traffic Department. (KPSM)

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