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Simpson Bay Beach from Halley Drive to Karakter Safe to Swim

SIMPSON BAY - The Nature Foundation is continuously monitoring the state of St. Maarten’s beaches to ensure the safety of bathers and prepare for the upcoming tourist season. If the visibility is sufficient the shore is surveyed up to three meters in depth and hurricane debris is removed if possible.

The Foundation continuously advises to be cautious when entering the water and to wear protective footwear when visiting the beach; hurricane debris is still washing up ashore and could cause potential injury. 

On Simpson Bay Beach visibility and water quality improved significantly and hurricane debris from Halley Drive to Karakter Beach Bar has been removed by the Nature Foundation. It is now considered safe to swim and enter the water; however, a large wreck is still located on the West side of Karakter Bar, in the direction of Beacon Hill.

The 30-meter wreck has been troubling swimmers for a long time and sunk already in 1991 and so far salvage has been unsuccessful. Hurricane Irma exposed the wreck even more with sharp metal edges uncovered directly at the shoreline beside Karakter Beach Bar. Measurements need to be taken in order to protect swimmers against injuring themselves at the wreck and caution is advised.  

Great Bay Beach has been surveyed again, however water quality is still considered poor, visibility is still insufficient in order to remove hurricane debris from the shallow waters. Swimming at Great Bay Beach is not recommended but hopefully possible in coming weeks. Beach reconstruction is also still taking place to clean the board walk and surroundings.  

The Nature foundation also recommend to avoid Guana Bay and Indigo Bay due to hurricane debris located at the beach and shoreline, also runoff and wave action of the passed few days decreased visibility and water quality.

SB1 inside

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SMCP SMITH: UNLAWFUL CLOSING OF PARLIAMENT MEETING

PHILIPSBURG - The Central Committee meeting of Parliament, convened on October 12, 2017 to discuss hurricane preparedness, disaster management and the recovery of Sint Maarten, was closed based on an erroneous ruling, said the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Leader Wycliffe Smith on Monday.

“As the Prime Minister, the Honorable William Marlin, was unable to attend this meeting, Acting Prime Minister, the Honorable Raphael Boasman, together with the Honorable Ministers Jacobs, Doncher and Lee substituted for him. After opening the meeting, the Chairlady, the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams, announced that there could be a problem with her chairing this meeting. Article 9 of the Rules of Order does not permit her to preside over the meeting due to the fact that she had taken the floor on the topic in the last two meetings. As the first and second acting chairpersons were absent, the meeting would have to be postponed, unless, based on article 95, none of the parliamentarians present objected to her continuing to chair the meeting.

“The Chairlady then posed the following question to the Parliament. “Is there any member opposed to the chairperson of parliament, having taken the floor on the topic at hand, can continue the chairing of this meeting nevertheless?”

“Immediately, the Honorable MP, Franklin Meyers, requested the floor. “Madame Chair, I oppose the continuation of the meeting for one reason and one reason in particular, it’s the Prime Minister is primarily tasked with the disaster management…however there was a lot of questions that were posed by Members of Parliament to the Prime Minister that wanted to know what the Prime Minister was exactly thinking at the time certain decisions was made and no Member of the Council of Ministers can answer what the Prime Minister was specifically thinking, so I oppose the continuation of this meeting until he, the Prime Minister William Marlin, is present, thank you!

“The Chairlady thanked MP Meyers and then declared, “according to article 95 of the Rules of Order the Parliament can only decide to deviate from the Rules of Order if no member opposes that deviation…! Having stated that. Having heard the opposition of one Member of Parliament to the continuation of this meeting, the meeting regretfully cannot take place.”

“Clearly, MP Meyers did not answer the specific question raised by the Chair, who wanted to know if there was any objection to her chairing the meeting. Instead, MP Meyers answered that he was opposed to the continuation of the meeting due to the absence of the Prime Minister. The Chairlady’s ruling to postpone this meeting was obviously based on an erroneous answer. Remarkably though, not one Member of Parliament present stood to a point of order concerning this ruling and so the meeting was closed. This raises a few questions and observations.

“Besides being Members of Parliament, the honorable drs. Rodolphe Samuel and Frans Richardson have an added responsibility. They are respectively first and second acting chairpersons of Parliament. Basic courtesy dictates that they should inform the Chair of their absence prior to the meeting. Did both acting chairpersons deliberately not attend the meeting, knowing that the meeting would then have to be postponed?

“Seeing that MP Meyers was so eager to take the floor just after the opening of the meeting, one wonders if he too were involved in ensuring that this meeting would not take place. In view of the fact that not one of the members of parliament raised objections to the erroneous ruling by the Chair, could it be that, they also colluded in the closing of the meeting. Or perhaps they are so used to business as usual that the ruling of the chair caught them off guard?

“Six weeks after the passing of Irma Parliament still has no answers, no plan and seemingly no clue as to what to do next. So now, we see individual Members of Parliament approaching the Kingdom Government on their own. The Honorable MP, Theo Heyliger, has sent a letter, thanking the Dutch Government for their assistance post hurricane Irma.

“Furthermore, the Honorable MP, Sarah Wescott-Williams, also sent a personal letter, requesting the Kingdom Government not to attach the Integrity Chamber and border control as conditions to the much the needed disaster aid. The fact that two Members of Parliament approached the Dutch Kingdom on their own is an indication of no cohesion between the parliament and the government. In my opinion, both letters could have had a greater impact if they had been sent by the Parliament, which is the collective representative of the people of Sint Maarten.

“On two occasions, during the past parliamentary year, Government and Parliament formed a united block against the Dutch. After hearing the Prime Minister on both occasions, Parliament unanimously passed motions instructing the Government to act. On November 9th 2016, Parliament instructed the Government to request the Kingdom Minister of Foreign Affairs to address the border dispute with his counterparts in Paris. The motion of January 30, 2017 condemned the action of the Minister for Interior and Kingdom Relations and instructed the Government to use all means available to block the Integrity Chamber. Both instructions were carried out by Government!

“If Parliament and Government could unite then, why is so hard for them to cooperate on the matter of disaster aid for the country? Seeing that the Government is dragging its feet on the recovery effort and on hurricane aid from the Kingdom, Parliament should step up and take the lead. Because right now, the people of Sint Maarten are definitely not well served by and do not stand to gain from the current incompatible relationship between Parliament and Government”, Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party said on Monday. 

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MOTORWORLD GROUP HURRICANE CAR SALE OFFERS ONCE IN A LIFETIME DEALS UP TO 70% DISCOUNTS ON ALL BRANDS

COLE BAY - In the wave of the aftermath of the recent hurricanes and storms, Motorworld Group of Companies has launched the 'Hurricane Car Sale' with up to 70% discount on new and used vehicles from all brands that are available at Motorworld, Caribbean Auto and Audi. This major sale begins today, and is valid for a limited time only, whilst stocks last.

"Businesses and residents are working diligently to rebuild and survive beyond the damages and destruction throughout the community of St. Maarten/ St. Martin. Reliable transportation is essential during these days and times. Hence, why we are now mashing up the prices to provide our vehicles at affordable costs" says Tariq Amjad, Managing Director of Motorworld Group of Companies.

Vehicles are being sold "As-Is" for prices as low as $3,500. There may be minor to major cosmetic and unforeseen damages on select vehicles, as a result of the recent storms. However, Motorworld's professional Service and Body Shop teams are available to assist with any repairs, at an additional cost. Though this would ensure a seamless process, peace of mind, and the possibility of continued warranty coverage, that aspect is entirely at the discretion of customers.

Motorworld Group's 'Hurricane Sale' is a once in a lifetime venture with incredible deals that are not to be missed. Everyone is encouraged to call or visit as soon as possible to explore the options that best suit their needs.

Motorworld's Colebay location is now open on Sundays from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

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443 vehicles and 63 scooters controlled. Four arrests made

PHILIPSBURG – Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) assisted by members of the Police Forces of the Netherlands, Aruba, Curacao, The Royal Marechausee, VKC and VKS continue to have general controls at different locations on the Dutch Side of the island.

Over the weekend thus far a total of 443 cars/trucks and 63 scooters were controlled. Tint was removed from a total of 165 cars, 15 cars/scooters were towed and four arrests were made for illegal drugs, weapon possession, threat and illegal status on the island.

After hours establishments such as bars and nightclubs are also been controlled for any irregular or illegal activity. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

police control inside

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USVI also aiming to have first commercial cruise ship visits on November 11

SINT MAARTEN/USVI – Port St. Maarten and the Government of Sint Maarten announced several weeks ago to have the first commercial cruise ship in port on November 11, which also marks Sint Maarten/St. Martin’s Day.  The destination’s main cruise competitor, the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) has also set November 11 as its own target date to receive the first cruise ships.

USVI Governor Kenneth Mapp announced on Friday, October 13 at a press briefing, that there has been a surge in cruise calls that want to visit the islands following the passage of hurricane Irma and Maria.

Governor Mapp reportedly told the media that the USVI will open in earnest on November 11 for cruise ships, “and there was excitement in his voice when he announced that St. Croix port calls had climbed from 40 to 90 this season.

“The number also surged in St. Thomas, which traditionally accounts for the lion’s share of cruise ships. But the governor said his administration would share more information next week, as the number of requests continue to grow.

“Mr. Mapp said while the additional calls were encouraging, the territory would be careful in how many cruise ships it accepts this season, as the USVI is still in recovery mode and would not want to damage its product by inviting an overwhelming amount of tourists,” the media report said on the cruise ship issue.

Port St. Maarten has already secured its first cruise ship visit as of November 5 it was announced recently.  Royal Caribbean International Grandeur of the Seas will be in port on that day.

SOUALIGA NEWSDAY REPORT

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Official #SXMSTRONG campaign launched

PHILIPSBURG – On Friday the official #SXMSTRONG campaign has been launched. This campaign is a broad initiative organized by different community- and social stakeholders on the Dutch and French side and is endorsed by both governments. 

The #SXMSTRONG campaign will bring together different social organizations and business community. It gives them a platform to organize their events and activities as part of the joint rebuilding efforts.

Leading up to Sint Maarten day, several events will be held around the island. On November 5, the first cruise ship will arrive and the Harbor will celebrate this important arrival by organizing different events.

Immediately after Hurricane Irma, many people turned to social media and shared their support, thoughts and prayers by using the hashtag SXMSTRONG. Since then, the popularity of the hashtag (#) has grown on different social media platforms.

The sentiment surrounding the powerful slogan is one of unity, resilience, empowerment and solidarity. The slogan and the underlying message reinforces the determination of the government of Sint Maarten and its people in their recovery and rebuilding process.

The #SXMSTRONG inspired the government of Sint Maarten to design a logo. The logo will be used during all official events and activities aimed at the rebuilding of our island of Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin.

The tagline “Rebuilding our nation” underscores this focus. The logo represents the colors of the flags and shows the pelican as our national bird together with the island icon.

All persons who have events scheduled in the coming months on rebuilding Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin can submit their events detail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in order to reach and to unify as broad as possible not only on our island but into the whole world. #SXMSTRONG, Rebuilding our nation!

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Minister Doncher-Arrindell: The most irresponsible action, is inaction at Philipsburg Market

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on Friday said the only irresponsible action as it pertains to the kiosks at the Philipsburg Marketplace, is to sit by and do nothing about a long talked about situation that was made worse by the passing of hurricane Irma. “The only irresponsible action is inaction,” she said.

The Minister explained that there were always past intentions to do something about a marketplace that has clearly run its course in terms and aesthetics, space usage and wear and tear. She said Hurricane Irma only compounded and expedited the issue by further damaging structures that have not been maintained over the years. 

The Minister said the structures are old and unsafe for passersby and the users, and the spaces have developed into eyesores right in the heart of Philipsburg. VROMI will remove them and assess if any can be salvaged to be used again when the final plan is agreed upon. “There comes a point when we simply have to stop talking about solutions and genuinely work towards them. St. Maarten will go through a general rebuilding and recovery, and so too will the marketplace in Philipsburg.”

“As a responsible Ministry, we chose to finally do something about this situation, long talked about in Parliament meetings, public forums and internally over many years. Besides the obvious issues after the hurricane, the realities of the development of Philipsburg and shortcomings of the area also must be considered in our ongoing planning,” the Minister said.

As for the vendors, the Minister explained that government is responsible for designating a proper location. The current location and kiosks needed addressing and so an alternate is being considered, taking multiple factors into account. Information regarding this will be made available soon.

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Ombudsman Focusses on Crisis period

PHILIPSBURG - It is clear that we are in a state of crisis; and it should be obvious that business as usual cannot apply in this stage, Ombudsman (OBM) Dr. Nilda Arduin said on Thursday at a press conference in Philipsburg.

“As such our focus will be on monitoring the ‘relief, recovery and rebuilding’ procedures, using the mandate of the OBM provided for by law to supervise and promote propriety in the allocation of material and services in the recovery and rebuilding stages of the country. We will evaluate policies and procedures, as well as identify bottlenecks and recommend on eliminating procedural hurdles.

“In the coming months matters regarding ‘relief, recovery and rebuilding’ will have preference above ‘going concerns’.  The strategy outlined to monitor these procedures are as follows:

  • - For the past weeks we have been working on gathering information regarding the various relief efforts, both by Government and NGO’s. This to facilitate referrals when approached by the public.
  • - Considering that all attention is required to rebuild the country, we understand that the focus of Government and the civil servants are geared towards ‘relief, recovery and rebuilding’. Ongoing cases are therefore being reviewed to terminate the investigations with recommendations to Government to properly deal with them.
  • - The public is requested to file substantial complaints regarding ‘relief, recovery and rebuilding’ promptly with the OBM. It should be noted that the Complaints will not be handled as usual. It is not the intension to just investigate why the Complainant did not receive the requested relief, but we will scrutinize the selection procedures to keep a close eye on how the various registration lists, applications and procedures are dealt with. A fast track investigation will apply. Transparency, fairness and accountability should be the guiding elements of the relief, recovery and rebuilding
  • - Complaints regarding ‘going concerns’ which are impacted by the hurricanes and have important consequences for the livelihood of the Complainant will be investigated forthwith, however ‘going concerns’ which are not immediately impacted by the hurricanes will be put on hold.

The Ombudsman commended the Ministries and government agencies, which have been forthcoming in informing the public of what they can expect from both Government and the private sector.

“While the Ministry of Labor has issued a communique about the rights of employees and the obligations of employers, and SZV has been publishing measures in managing the crisis, I call upon ALL entities for their cooperation and send us their guidelines and requirements to provide relief and assistance to the public; this in order to assist and enable us to refer the public to the right entities for assistance.

“Both Government and NGO’s are encouraged to share as much as possible information and tips with the public through the media, in particular:

  • - The Rent Committee;
  • - The SHDF (SXM Housing and Development Foundation);
  • - NGO’s such as the Red Cross, VKS and others operating within the communities, on how persons can access relief items distributed by them;
  • - Government regarding; the voucher system, the next steps persons who filled in registration forms for relief, should look out for, and more.

“Transparency and clarity is required pertaining to what the public may expect.

Though assessments are not yet completed, I call upon the Ministry of VSA to look into shortened emergency procedures to address the financial, social and emotional wellbeing of the people; procedures regarding legal aid for those who might have to address the Court pertaining to labor or housing issues. The Ministry of VROMI regarding debris and garbage removal in areas difficult accessible by private persons, to preserve the environment on a long term; building permits; and more.

“I call upon the public in general to be tolerant towards each other and let the general interest prevail above our personal interests. We need to remember that apart from our own bad situation, there are those who are worse of, and even so there are those who lost everything and are worst of. First come first serve may not always be the norm today, but the needs of the most vulnerable and the hardest hit should prevail. Those who are able or well-connected will most likely be registered on top of the lists, but may not necessarily be the most vulnerable among us.

“Last but certainly not least, I thank my staff who came out on September 18 and the weeks after, notwithstanding their personal circumstances, to work with me in preparing to face and bridge the crisis in the aftermath of the events. Some came to the office with their children and dedicated their time to be ready to address the concerns of the public post-hurricane Irma and her friends. As such I call upon the public to understand that we too have to adapt and prioritize our investigations to address the concerns of those among us that are hardest hit,” concluded Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin in a statement received from the bureau Ombudsman on Thursday.

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DP urges a repositioning on Dutch assistance for the benefit of the people

PHILIPSBURG - Minister of General Affairs, the honorable Prime Minister William Marlin on October 11th, received letter from the leader of the Democratic Party (DP), Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams, as a result of the allusions made by (outgoing) Dutch Minister Plasterk regarding Dutch reconstruction aid for St. Maarten.

“The Dutch minister in essence accuses the local government of jeopardizing the reconstruction aid from the Netherlands. While the timing might be suspect, the fact remains that the storm did not blow the integrity chamber issue away. It was there and talks between the two governments on the matter were well advanced. Some persons could rightfully ask what the Democratic Party would have done or would do if placed in the same situation,” the DP said in a press release on Thursday.

“Firstly, I don’t believe the points of contention (at least from the information I have) are of such a nature that our democratic system would crumble because of them. Secondly, get the fine print. E.g on the point of border control: what is concretely the proposal by the Dutch government? Control, management or assistance? Or all of the three? 

“And thirdly, and most importantly, for the sake of the wellbeing, livelihood and very survival of the St. Maarten people the Democratic Party, that fought tooth and nail for our current status accepts that this is no ordinary state of affairs. Imagine in the week of September 3rd, we all were going our separate ways, doing our own thing, grateful for our island, its resistance and potential, only to wake up (if we could’ve slept) to total destruction and despair.

“Our lives changed forever!  If this is not reason to step down from any pedestal we are on, I don’t know what is. Moving our people forward out of the heap of despair and uncertainty that is slowly engulfing our island, is the Democratic Party’s main focus at this time. Reality is a tough teacher. If there are realistic alternatives to the Dutch assistance or in addition to, then I welcome such with open arms. I am a believer though, that there are no “free lunches”.   

“As it seems right now, we do not have the luxury to jeopardize or condition any help. Some say, we are asked to sell our souls. Our soul, at least mine, is content to know we did our best for the common good of St. Maarten.  As we come out of the state of emergency and the stark reality sets in, let’s fight for restoration, like we have never fought before. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and outlooks. 

“DP’s letter to the Government of St. Maarten reads as follows: 
It is with great astonishment that I read the statement by the outgoing Dutch Minister for Kingdom Relations, Dr. R. Plasterk, titled “Government Reluctance May Stall Recovery”. The article goes on further to state that refusal by the government to cooperate with conditions put forward by the Dutch Government could stall and or delay the much-needed assistance from the Netherlands.  Before drawing any conclusions from these statements, I urgently put the following questions forward:

1. Has the government been apprised of these conditions and if so what EXACTLY are these conditions? Please spell these out.
2. Has government been unequivocally told that refusal to cooperate will jeopardize Dutch assistance and aid?
3. What has been government’s response?
4. What are the government’s objections to these conditions? Please spell these out.
5. What -if any- are the guarantees for Dutch support?
6. How much of this support has already been received in kind?
7. How many requests for aid have been submitted to the Dutch/Kingdom government for support due to the destruction by hurricane Irma on St. Maarten?
8. If indeed, as mentioned in the statement by Minister Plasterk, one of the conditions is the establishment of an Integrity Chamber and given the agreement between the Dutch and St. Maarten governments of July 6th last, what is the status of the Integrity Chamber of St. Maarten and when will Parliament receive the draft law?

“It goes without saying that these questions warrant government’s urgent reply,” the DP Party press release concludes.

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Gasoline and Diesel Prices to be adjusted on Thursday

PHILIPSBURG – On Thursday, October 12, the fuel pump prices will be adjusted for gasoline and diesel. 

The current price of unleaded gasoline is Naf.1.915 per liter; the new price will be Naf.1.947 per liter.

The current price of diesel is Naf.1.378 per liter; the new price will be Naf.1.487 per liter.

The Government of Sint Maarten regulates the prices of petroleum products by imposing a maximum price at which wholesalers and retailers can sell these products in the country to motorists.

At the international level, the prices of crude oil have experienced adjustments and local prices follow the international trend, and therefore prices are adjusted to reflect this. 

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