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Soualiga News Today (4228)

Port St. Maarten officials return from CSA Executive Committee Meeting

POINT BLANCHE, St. Maarten – Port St. Maarten – A delegation from Port St. Maarten recently attended the 13th Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference (CSEC) that was held Miami, Florida.

The conference was hosted this year in collaboration with the Port of Miami at the Marriott Biscayne Bay.  It brought together shipping industry executives from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America and Europe to discuss key issues affecting the industry.   

High on the agenda was an update on the Panama Canal, which has recently been embroiled in disputes over funding and delays.  An agreement is to be signed soon that would allow for construction to restart and the new date for the completion of the expansion is January 2016.

The Panama Canal connects 144 trade routes.  The main users are USA, China, Chile, Japan, Colombia and South Korea.  The canal contributes to the lowering of costs of transportation of goods as well as delivery time of products.  If the canal did not exist, cargo vessels would have to navigate around the South of Chile and vice versa which would mean considerable higher costs for international trade. 

Additional topics discussed included the new marine gas era, securing ports impact of International Ship and Port Facility Security/Maritime Transportation Security Act on shipping companies as well as a cruise industry update.

Port St. Maarten officials also listened keenly to a presentation about trends and developments related to power solutions for ships plying the oceans of the world as well as trends in the energy markets.  Wartsila did a presentation about ‘New Marine Era for Gas.’  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is seen as the gas of the future.

Alfredo Di Palma, Chief Commercial Officer of Maersk/Sealand, gave a presentation on his company’s plans for the Caribbean.  Sealand is expected to start its Caribbean operations in January 2015.

Another topic was how maritime domain awareness affects ports and shipping, by William Lusk.  Lusk emphasized on the involvement of non-traditional stakeholders as Port security is everybody’s responsibility and others such as fishermen, boaters and environmental groups should be brought together in a consultation forum to provide their input.

Other topics ranged from the benefits of advanced level training in the maritime industry; an overview of marine sector insurance and a presentation by the Port of Miami, Juan M. Kuryla, port director under the theme, ‘Looking at The Caribbean as Latin America and the Caribbean make up Port of Miami Largest Trade Region.’  The Americas and the Caribbean make up 54.3 per cent of trade and Asia-Pacific 34.8 per cent.

Kuryla emphasized that the key to their port success is that partnership is key not only with various port departments, but also with lines and their respective agents.

Port St. Maarten has a cruise ranking of number four, and this is due to the strong strategic relationships that have been built with the cruise lines and other stakeholders.  On the side of cargo, Port St. Maarten management continues with its endeavours of becoming a top transhipment operation in the North Eastern Caribbean.

President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige made a presentation entitled, ‘The Cruise Industry: Know the Benefits in Order to Appreciate and Seize the Benefits.’  Paige was very adamant that ports needed to put the WOW factor back into cruise destinations and officials needed to create more AWESOME experience tours, and cruises go where passengers want to go.

During her presentation, Paige referred to St. Maarten several times pointing out the manner in which the destination was able to keep on top for both cruise passengers and crew.    

Port St. Maarten delegation comprised of Supervisory Board members Humphrey Mezas, Chairman of the Board, Renald Williams, board member, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo, Roger Lawrence, Manager Terminal and Cargo Operations, Hector Peters, General and Governmental Affairs, and Phil Laplace, St. Maarten Harbour Shipping Consultant.

PHOTO CUTLINE:  L to R, Hector Peters, Mark Mingo, Grantley Stephenson, President of the CSA, Humphrey Mezas, Renald Williams, and Roger Lawrence.

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Union Farm Road Leading to 911 Houses Traffic Interruption up to May 26

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), hereby announces that work started on May 20 on Union Farm Road, the road leading to the 911 houses, and this will lead to traffic disruptions until May 26.

Road works will be carried out from 8.00am to 7.00pm. 

Motorists and pedestrians are requested to be vigilant and observant for the traffic directional signs indicating what works are underway in the respective area.

There will be various types of heavy equipment on the road during the road repairs in the aforementioned area.  Hot asphalt will be used with respect to the infrastructure works.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconvenience that this may cause.

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Minister Lourens says her prayers are with the nine-year old school girl

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Patricia Lourens Philip says the nine-year old school girl who was assaulted allegedly by a mentally ill man is in her prayers.

“It was very disturbing to learn what transpired last week Thursday.  The incident must not be allowed to happen again.  This matter needs to be addressed promptly and preventative interventions taken.

“This nine-year old was lucky, next time it could be someone else who loses their life.  My prayers and thoughts are with the young lady and her family and I wish her a speedy recovery,” Minister of Education Hon. Patricia Lourens-Philip said on Tuesday.

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Minister Voges presents annual report to Prime Minister

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams received the Minister Plenipotentiary the Honorable Mathias Voges at her Cabinet on Monday afternoon. During the meeting the Prime Minister was updated on the activities of the Minister Plenipotentiary and was presented with the annual report including the facts and figures  of the Cabinet of the Minister Plenipotentiary.

The Minister Plenipotentiary of country St. Maarten in The Hague, Mr. Mathias S. Voges, is the representative of the St. Maarten Government in the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Council of Ministers of the Kingdom consists of the Ministers Plenipotentiary of the autonomous countries Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and the Ministers of the Dutch government.

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St. Maarten Cable TV and Internet Services Off the Air on Wednesday

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – St. Maarten Cable TV announces that Cable TV and Internet services are scheduled to be off the air on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. This brief interruption is due to an upgrade of St. Maarten Cable TV and CableNet’s electrical system and will affect all St. Maarten Cable TV and CableNet subscribers.

Managing Director, Beulah Jonis stated, “This service interruption has been scheduled during the aforementioned hours as a means of minimizing any inconvenience to our subscribers. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused as we continue to maintain and upgrade our equipment to provide optimum service to our customers.”

Customers are encouraged to visit St. Maarten Cable TV’s Facebook page and the new website for additional information and other pertinent facts. The website address is www.innovativevi.net/sxmcable

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Middle East MERS-CoV: persons traveling requested to be alert and take health precautions

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Collective Prevention Services (CPS) from the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is advising persons planning to travel to the Middle East to take a number of health precautions and to be alert.

The advice is given in keeping with International Health Regulations (IHR) in connection with Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which is a serious respiratory illness of unknown cause affecting people, in that region.

The National IHR Focal Point for the Netherlands notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about two laboratory confirmed cases there of the MERS-CoV infection.  Cases have also been detected in the United States of America.

Travelers to this area who have a pre-existing major medical condition such as chronic diseases (diabetes or chronic bronchitis, immunodeficiency) should be aware that these conditions can increase the likelihood of medical problems, including MERS-CoV infection, during travel.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which includes viruses that may cause a range of illnesses in humans, from the common cold and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).  Viruses of this family also cause a number of animal diseases, however the NCoV itself has not yet been found in an animal.

Travellers can take the following steps as a precautionary measure: • wash hands often with soap and water. When hands are not visibly dirty, a hand rub can be used;

• adhere to good food safety practices, such as avoiding undercooked meat or food prepared under unsanitary conditions, and properly washing fruits and vegetables before eating them;

• maintain good personal hygiene;

• and avoid unnecessary contact with farm, domestic, and wild animals.

Travelers who return with symptoms from areas affected by the virus should call their family physician immediately. This is in connection with the Minister of Public Health’s ‘Get Checked’ campaign in order to protect public health.

Globally, 614 laboratory-confirmed cases of infection have been officially reported to WHO, including 181 deaths.

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Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams Appointed as Caribbean OCT Regional Authorizing Officer

MONTSERRAT-SINT MAARTEN - The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams has been nominated as the Caribbean Regional Authorizing Officer for the Dutch and British Caribbean Overseas Country’s and Territories of the European Union (COCT) during the COTC conference held in Little Bay Montserrat last week.

This role for the Prime Minister as regional authorizing officer means that coordination of the Caribbean-wide project that will be approved from the points discussed at the meeting will be done by St. Maarten through 2020.

The points discussed during the two-day conference included items such as the updating of the OCTs on the status of Small and Medium Enterprise program remaining from 10th EDF, to select the sectors for submission for regional cooperation within the 11th EDF, to select countries to work on the proposals for the selected sectors, to select the Regional Authorizing Officer for this programming period and to commit to cooperate with other EU partners in the region namely the ACP and Overseas Regions of Europe.

As a result of the meeting the Caribbean Wide Project concerning Small and Medium Enterprise program is currently in full swing with the first steering committee meeting and stakeholder forum to be held in the British Virgin Islands on the 2nd of June, 2014

Various sectors for regional cooperation were also discussed including the biodiversity and climate change envelope focusing on renewable energy and waste management, the regional envelope on Tourism which will be steered by St. Maarten and the Health envelope which will be steered by the British Virgin Islands.

With Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams being nominated regionally as the Regional Authorizing Officer for the Dutch and British Caribbean OCT's the coordination of the project that will be approved from the above mentioned options will be done by St. Maarten through 2020

In connection with the commitment to cooperate with all regional partners, St. Maarten is now preparing to sign a letter of intent of cooperation with St. Martin for a European funded infrastructural development project accessed through the French.

There will be a press conference on the ongoing developments with regards to St. Maarten’s Role in the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union on Monday, May 18th 2014 at eleven am at the AC Wathey Legislative Hall.

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UP family shocked at assault on nine-year old, calls for more mental health care resources

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten -- The United People's Party (UP) family was shocked after seeing the newspaper photo of a nine-year old school girl on Friday who was brutally assaulted last Thursday morning.

The UP family also condems the senseless murder of a young business on the North side of the island, and expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends and business colleagues.

It is alleged that the perpetrator suffers from a mental disorder.  The Sint Maarten community is very aware of people walking around in our districts who suffer from some form of mental illness/disorder.

Mental health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease.  It is related to the promotion of well-being, the prevention of mental disorders, and the treatment and rehabilitation of people affected by mental disorders.

The UP family feels that more resources have to be provided to tackle cases of mental illness and persons in the community with mental disorders, adding that for the national budget of 2015, additional financial resources should be allocated to the Ministry of Public Health budget/Mental Health Foundation.

The UP family extends its prayers and get well wishes to the nine-year old school girl as well as her family during this difficult period.

The UP family fully believes in the premise that mental health is an integral part of health, and that indeed, there is no health without mental health.

The UP party believes this issue is nonpartisan and remains committed to any call to remedy such medical or social ills in our community.

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Know your blood pressure numbers to prevent heart attacks and stroke

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – 17th of May marked World Hypertension Day, and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), along with the  Collective Prevention Services (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, is urging people to get their blood pressure checked regularly to prevent heart attacks and stroke.

One in three people with hypertension are unaware they have it, increasing their health risks.

The theme for World Hypertension Day was “Know your numbers,” highlighting the importance of getting regular blood pressure checks and understanding that a reading of 140/90 mmHg or higher means hypertension.

As part of Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Hon. Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign which promotes good health for all ages, adults are encouraged in the interests of their health to ‘know your numbers’.

PAHO/WHO estimates that in the Americas, 30 per cent of people with high blood pressure are unaware they have the condition.

Hypertension is a silent killer because in its early stages it rarely causes symptoms, and many people go undiagnosed.  Diagnosing and treating it on time can reduce the risk of heart attacks, stroke and kidney failure.

All adults should know their blood pressure levels.  Healthy lifestyles can prevent hypertension, and for people who need medication, it can improve control.

An estimated 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and stroke can be prevented by reducing the leading risk factors for these conditions: unhealthy diet, tobacco consumption, harmful use of alcohol and physical inactivity.

Overweight and obesity and excess salt consumption – the single most important risk factor for hypertension – also increase one’s risk.

Studies show that high blood pressure contributes to some 9.4 million cardiovascular deaths worldwide each year.  In the Americas, 1.9 million people die yearly from cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in most of the region’s countries.  

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Nature Foundation Installs Numerous Coral Nurseries

COLE BAY, Sint Maarten - Through the assistance and backing of luxury horlogier Hublot and the Alwani Family of the Little Europe chain of stores the St. Maarten Nature Foundation over the past eighteen months researched, installed and managed coral nurseries at various locations around St. Maarten.  The Coral Nurseries have been installed in order to provide fast coral growth so that new coral fragments can be transplanted both on reefs within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area and closer to shore.

Due to rapid coastal development and climate change St. Maarten has lost nearly 80% of its near shore coral reefs. Coral reefs are an essential part of the Marine ecosystem as they provide habitat for numerous creatures and are often described as the ‘rainforests of the sea. Coral reefs also form a barrier to rising sea water levels caused by climate change and can act as a very important mitigating factor for the effects of sea level rise.

Additionally, the man of War Shoal Marine Park and the coral reef areas within it are of significant environmental and economic importance as diving in Marine Parks is globally on the rise and generally accepted by the diving tourist as a “must do” vacation activity. An economic valuation study conducted by the Nature Foundation of St. Maarten’s coral reef ecosystem has placed the monetary value at close to US$58 million in contributions to the economy of the country.

With proper management and restoration the area will increase the St. Maarten Tourism Product and local fisheries will also be enhanced through the regeneration of the depleted fish stock surrounding St. Maarten. Research has shown that Marine Protected Areas increase fish populations and fish size of commercial species in nearby fishing grounds.

Through a donation from luxury watchmaker Hublot and the Alwani family the Nature Foundation has been growing and transplanting coral at various locations throughout the island, both inside and outside of the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area. Specific species were chosen that provided a maximum of success in repopulating the country’s near shore environment with coral reefs.

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