Soualiga Newsday Features

Soualiga Newsday Features (1829)

Former Dutch prof footballer Kelvin Maynard shot dead in Amsterdam

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The man shot dead by two men on a motorbike in Amsterdam’s Zuidoost district on Wednesday night was a former professional footballer who spent time playing in Britain and Antwerp, Dutch media said on Thursday.

Kelvin Maynard, 32, was shot as he tried to escape his attackers and drove into the wall of a fire station. He died later from his injuries. Police said on Thursday he may have been chased for up to two kilometres.

Maynard played for Burton Albion for a time and for Antwerp FC as well as Dutch sides Volendam and Emmen. He currently turned out for amateur side Alphense Boys.

The AD reports that Maynard was ‘known to the police’, a euphemism that implies he may have been questioned by police or have a record. Police do say there is no connection with the murder of lawyer Derk Wiersum earlier in the day.

Alphense Boys has placed a message on the club website sending their condolences to his wife and children. Saturday’s match against Hollandia has been cancelled.



The Hague gets tough on ‘thick skulled waste louts’

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Hague is going to stop collecting large items of waste left out illegally in the street in an effort to raise awareness, the Volkskrant reports.

The move is part of a larger campaign to promote a cleaner, litter-free city which will start on Friday. The Hague is spending €7m a year on collecting pieces of furniture and other big, or small, items left around the underground waste containers which is against the rules and, if the culprit can be found, punishable with a fine.

‘I have had it up here with the fridges, beds and mattresses,’ alderman Richard Moss, who is responsible for The Hague’s public spaces, told the paper. ‘In order to get the message through the thick skulls of waste louts we are going to leave the big waste items in the street for a couple of days with a big sticker on it.

We want people to become aware of the fact they are polluting their own neighbourhood.’ Moss conceded that often people don’t know that what they are doing is wrong but said that some can’t be bothered to take the items to a collection point or arrange for the waste to be collected by the council.

So far more intensive controls by the city have resulted in 65 cases where people were caught in the act and 5,287 cases where the waste dumper could be traced because of an address sticker on packaging.

De Moss rejected claims by locals that the waste containers are not emptied often enough leaving people no choice but to put their rubbish next to them. ‘That is only the case in 2% of the cases where waste was placed outside the containers.

It really is down to bad behaviour by the local people and businesses,’ he said. Venray is another city which is combating illegal waste dumping at underground containers, the paper said, only it has installed cameras at ‘waste dumping hotspots. The number of cases of illegal dumping went down by half.



ODM: Are You Ready? Review Your Personal & Family Disaster Emergency Supply Kit

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Fire Chief and National Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, is calling on the Sint Maarten community to use the time now to review their personal and family disaster supply emergency kit to make sure everything they would need in the event of a hurricane strike is in place.

We are in the peak of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season and every household and business should be prepared and ready and continue to be vigilant.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) says one of the first things that you need is a Disaster Supply Kit (DSK). A DSK would contain necessary supplies to take care of a person or family for up to five-seven days after a hurricane has passed the island.

A devastating hurricane could leave the country without water and electricity for several days if not longer, and therefore it is very important to have a minimum of one week of supplies for each person in the household.

The DSK should contain non-perishable food, water and medicine (fill prescriptions before the storm); non-electric can opener; first-aid kit; extra cash (ATM machines and credit cards won’t work if there is no electricity); battery powered radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries; make sure cell phones are all charged prior to the arrival of the hurricane; fill up your car/truck with gas; check if your home and automobile insurance are up to date; put ID cards, passports and driver’s license in a waterproof bag along with other important documents.

If you are a parent with an infant or young child (ren), you also need to have essential items as part of your disaster supply kit: baby formula; diapers; bottles; powdered milk; medications; moist towels; and diaper rash ointment.

The community and new residents are urged to learn more about hurricane hazards and how to prepare for a storm/hurricane strike by visiting the Government website: where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.”

Listen to the Government Radio station – 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS):


Minister Johnson receives Maximum Price List 2019 Hurricane items Booklet

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Head of the Inspectorate in the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications (TEATT) Lucien Wilson, recently presented TEATT Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson, with a copy of the "Maximum Price List 2019 Hurricane Items Booklet."

Some of the items in the Booklet include those considered to be Hurricane related. They have been regulated by Ministerial Regulation titled "Regeling prijsvaststelling in verband met uitzonderingstoestanden 2019"/ Ministerial Regulation on Price Determination pertaining to a state of emergency 2019.

The Booklets contain a full list of the regulated items and their maximum price at which they may be sold by retailers to assist the public when making purchases. The Ministry will print the booklets and distribute them within short

Minister Johnson said Sunday, "The objective of the ministerial regulation is to set preventive measures for price gouging as has been suspected in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017."

This move to establish the maximum price ensures fair pricing of movable goods, such as water, groceries, batteries, construction materials, etc. which the consumers need during a state of emergency such as the aftermath of a hurricane.

This regulation is in force until November 30, 2019. Willful violations of the law may include criminal prosecution and a fine of up to NAƒ10.000,-

The Inspectorate of TEATT has already made its maximum prices know through various publications and is making sure that all hardware stores, supermarkets and suppliers of construction material are informed of the existence of this regulation.

 The Ministry of TEATT has also outlined the obligation of these establishments to comply with the established maximum prices once a state of emergency has been declared.


Waiting lists for nursing home places grow as population gets older

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Waiting list numbers for a place in a local nursing home or for home nursing support continue to soar, reaching nearly 14,000 people by July, the NRC reported on Friday.

The total of people looking for a place in a home near to their current address or for care services has risen by over 1,000 since February, and 4,000 people have been waiting for more than six months.

The shortage of nurses and the increase in demand due to the aging population have contributed to the problem, the paper said. ‘This is a crisis situation,’ Jeroen van den Oever, from nursing organisation Fundis, told the paper.

‘We have 60 vacancies out of 800 district nurses and sometimes we have to tell a patient ‘no’.’



Amsterdam-on-sea? Dutch capital tells tourists to go to The Hague

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – They are not renaming it ‘Amsterdam The Hague’. But in an effort to spread the blessing and curse of Amsterdam’s 17 million annual overnight tourists, The Hague has temporarily taken over the capital’s main physical marketing outlet.

For three weeks, visitors to the Iamsterdam store and information point at Amsterdam Centraal train station will be met with a green carpet and a barrage of charming propaganda suggesting that all ways lead to The Hague.

On the first day, tourists were offered free fifty return train tickets to the Dutch centre of government and the first to turn up, American artist Annamarie Trombetta, also won a guided tour around the city highlights in a horse-drawn, golden carriage.

Richard de Mos, head of economic affairs for The Hague’s municipal council, told DutchNews that this is part of a three-year joint strategy to share some of Amsterdam’s tourism largesse and burden.

‘It’s good for the corporation The Netherlands to present itself as the whole of the Netherlands, not just Amsterdam,’ he said. ‘The focus is not on nuisance-making tourists but on the sort of tourist who wants to visit palaces, museums and beaches.

We can learn from Amsterdam about how to spread attractions out too.’ He said that The Hague has room and open arms for a few more cultural visitors and families. ‘Amsterdam has 13 times more overnight visitors than we do.

But we offer something different: a seaside town, a royal town and a place of knowledge and peace. If The Hague can help make Amsterdam less busy, it is happy to do it.’

Earlier this month, Haarlem announced a new strategy to prioritise certain types of ‘quality visitors’ and minimise negative effects, and an influential think-tank announced a need to invest in better national planning to cope with burgeoning tourism.


Geerte Udo, chief executive of the city’s marketing agency Amsterdam&partners, said the measure is part of a three-year collaboration with The Hague with goal of spreading tourism across the Netherlands to reduce crunch points: ‘If you look at visitor behaviour, they are willing to travel for an hour to see something unique,’ she said.

‘The Hague is unique: it’s a royal city where our government is located, and they have beautiful places and events. ‘Spreading tourism isn’t easy but if you look at the data, there are people who have been here many times who are interested in new areas.

There are also visitors here for 10 days who after two or three days are interested in going abroad, and Dutch infrastructure makes other places easier to reach.’ She added that the city needs to do more research on how to deal with predicted increases in numbers in the coming years but wants a no-tolerance approach to crass behaviour.

‘We aren’t happy with people who misbehave,’ she said. ‘We are an open and tolerant city, but we do not accept that people disrespect our locals. There are many solutions we have to invest in, but this is a partial one, if people have a broader idea of what the Netherlands has to offer.’


Trombetta, who enjoyed a tour of The Hague from a golden, horse-drawn carriage – around some of the route the king will take in his own on the national budget day next week – said she felt ‘like a princess for the day.’ ‘This is above and beyond,’ she told DutchNews.

‘It’s amazing to be here in such an international city, which is ancient for me as an American. I’ve found it captivating and almost everything I heard; I didn’t know. I want to stay here!’

Her tour – joined by – included the Dutch parliament and Royal Palace, architecture from medieval buildings and linden-tree lined streets to the modern Richard Meier city hall and charming shopping streets, winding like the sand dunes they were built upon.

‘I always say, stinky canals are for Amsterdam,’ joked her guide Remco Dörr. ‘The Hague is a royal city by the sea!’



Cycling at home slows down Parkinson symptoms: research

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – People in the early stages of Parkinson’s who do aerobic exercise on home trainers can stop the progression of the disease to a significant degree, a study by Radboud teaching hospital published in The Lancet Neurology shows.

The researchers studied two groups of Parkinson sufferers for six months, with one group working out on home trainers and one group doing stretching exercises three times a week.

Some hundred people participated in the trial. At the end of the six months the group that had cycled on the home trainer saw a significant reduction in symptoms compared to the group that had done the stretching exercises.

Both groups had apps to motivate them. The home trainers were fitted with screens and software to increase efforts, such as a virtual Tour de France app which challenged patients to climb a hill or better other players’ achievements.

The fact that patients could do the work-out at home also had a positive effect, researchers said. ‘The control group scored four points less on the scale we use to assess motor skills of Parkinson patients,’ head of the research team professor Bas Bloem told broadcaster NOS.

‘The effect of cycling is about the same as the improvement we would get from different types of medication. New medication for patients is regarded as meaningful if the improvement it brings has a score of three.

That shows you how important the effect of cycling really is.’ More research is needed to find out if the positive effect that has now been found will continue in the future. ‘The cyclists were fitter and had fewer symptoms.

They were deteriorating at a slower pace. That means they will need less medical care and fewer pills but also that effects of the disease on their lungs and heart will be reduced. Many Parkinson patients die of these complications,’ Bloem said.



Scammed, sofa-surfing and stranded – finding a home as an international student

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – With an estimated shortfall in the Netherlands of 31,000 rooms, many students still don’t know where they’re sleeping this semester.

Deborah Nicholls-Lee reports on why international students are among the worst affected by the student housing crisis. In a living room on the Prins Hendrikkade, close to Amsterdam’s Central Station, a makeshift bed has been fashioned out of crates and a mattress salvaged from someone’s rubbish on the street.

19-year-old UvA student Katie Millar, from the UK, is crashing there, along with a Belgian student who is also homeless. ‘I’m lucky to have very nice friends who are helping me out,’ she tells me, ‘but obviously I don’t want to intrude too long.’ She thinks she’s staying with a friend of a friend’s mum next week, but she’s not certain.

Though term has already started, an estimated 4% of students in the Netherlands are still desperately seeking a place to live. This year, 11.5% of them will be foreigners like Katie – many aware far too late of the country’s student housing deficit which has seen overseas students in Groningen bedding down in makeshift emergency centres and students in Tilburg sleeping in tents.

Katie decided to study in the Netherlands after university open days in the UK left her feeling uninspired. ‘I kind of had FOMO [fear of missing out] for the rest of the world, especially with Brexit, and I wanted to go somewhere that was super international, where I would meet other people.’


She shoulders her housing problems as best she can. ‘I don’t want to stress my parents out, so I only ring them when there’s good news,’ she says. Meanwhile, she’s ‘biking around like a crazy person’, and attending two or three viewings a day. ‘I think I might have sent 100 emails and I didn’t get any replies. It was just everyone saying ‘No students.

No sharing.’ Katie has also had a taste of the gruelling hospiteren evenings: a sort of interview-cum-social, where prospective flatmates gather at the property. With everyone speaking Dutch, internationals, she says, ‘get a very negative vibe straight away’. ‘One place I went to two days ago,’ she tells me, ‘the landlord officially requested no international people.’

A campaign against this policy of excluding foreign students is one of many strategies outlined in the Student Housing Action Plan 2018-2021 (SHAP), devised by stakeholders such as universities, the education ministry, student housing organisation Kences, and Nuffic (the Dutch organisation for the internationalisation of education).

The plan includes educating newcomers on how the student housing market works here and rebalancing supply and demand within ten years. The SHAP states that neither the students, nor the knowledge economy that they feed, can function properly faced with the huge housing deficit.

Consequently, within four years, 10,500 young people and student housing units are planned for Amsterdam, 2700 for Leiden, and around 2000 each for Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Nijmegen is planning 500 new units and Maastricht will build 1170 units, though around one quarter will only be temporary. Dutch Student Union (LSVb) treasurer Ruben Kleijn, whose portfolio includes student housing, is used to hearing stories like Katie’s via the union’s Housing Hotline service and hopes that the SHAP will honour its pledges.

Universities, he says, ‘have a bigger responsibility than they seem to imagine’. We must take international students seriously, he told DutchNews, and ‘make sure they actually have an honest chance of finding a proper room and that there is access to relevant housing information’.

Shinyoung Kang (29) from Korea, who moved to The Hague to do a Master’s at the Royal Academy of Art, told DutchNews she felt she was not taken seriously by the seven or eight agencies she contacted because she was not Dutch. She stayed in an Airbnb, a hotel, and with a friend until, desperate, she paid over the odds for a barely habitable attic room. When she couldn’t bear it any longer and terminated the contract, the landlord withheld her deposit.

Venezuelan Eva Gonzalez (37) also had a bad experience with rental agencies in The Hague. ‘As soon as they found out I was a student – plus a foreign one – they completely dismissed me,’ she says. When she moved to Amsterdam, she responded to at least 25 listings, talking on the phone to countless people, and even sending essays about herself. ‘I finally found a roommate [just] one day before flying home for summer break,’ she says. ‘When he called me, I cried – I was so relieved!’

In Amsterdam, as in The Hague, the scarcity of housing has pushed the average rent for a student residential unit up to about €700 (€427 nationally). Since universities do not own student accommodation, they are unable to operate rent controls. Instead, students are often placed with third parties such as the Student Hotel (from €720 a month) or left to try their luck in the free market, where they, unfamiliar with the rules, make easy prey for unscrupulous landlords.

‘Pretty much every international tenant gets taken advantage of. That’s how it goes,’ says Dafna Eccles, an advisor at !WOON, an organisation offering free legal advice to tenants and property owners in Amsterdam and Amstelveen.

Internationals, of course, have fewer options. ‘They’re more desperate than Dutch students,’ she says. ‘If you’re living with Mum and Dad, then you can put it off for a few months … [But] you can’t commute from Madrid.’ Isabel* from Spain and Luca* from Italy, a couple in their 20s, are a case in point.

Attracted by the high level of English and easier access to competitive study programmes, they decided to enrol at two Amsterdam universities. After a long, fruitless search for accommodation, the pair responded to an online advert for a room on the outskirts of the city.

The landlord lured them off the official rental website, they handed over a deposit without visiting the property, agreed on a monthly rent of €1000, and – to secure the BSN they needed to get a job, healthcare and benefits – reluctantly signed papers stating that they were the only tenants, when in fact the property was shared with two others.

‘It seems stupid,’ admits Isabel, ‘but we had just one week to move … I know it’s not legal and it’s not correct, but no-one’s checking the landlords and they do whatever they want … You have all the pressure of studying abroad in a different country, in a different language, and all this personal academic pressure, so you are easy to manipulate.’

On moving day, the couple were horrified to discover that they would in fact be sleeping in the living room – which had not yet been equipped with a bed, leaving a tiny kitchen as the only shared space. ‘It was the worst time of my life,’ says Isabel emphatically. ‘I wanted to go back to my mother in Spain and forget about everything. It was horrible!’

Legal proceedings

Luca and Isabel sought advice from WOON, who calculated that they should be paying just €300 for the room. Isabel was terrified when they started proceedings against the landlord, who would often appear unannounced at the property, but WOON soon put them at ease.

‘When we got the money – oh my god! – I was crying for hours!’, says Isabel. ‘I couldn’t believe it! It was beautiful.’ Eccles lays some of the blame at the door of the universities.

‘The government’s cut their budget. They try to get international students in because they can charge them more money. These students are not really getting what they should. They know full well that there’s no housing for them.’

A spokesperson from the UvA shared with DutchNews the information pack on the housing shortage and how best to find a room (in English) which she says they send to students ‘as soon as they apply at the university’.

This year, she says, they have helped 3000 international students find a room. Isabel is excited about the studio flat she and Luca have found in new development OurDomain.

A five-year-contract offers them some security at last, and their €1,200 a month includes shared facilities such as sports courts, a theatre and a bar.

But for thousands of students, the search goes on. ‘We have many, many friends who are having problems,’ she says. *Names have been changed.



Netherlands has most asthmatic children in Europe: report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – The Netherlands has Europe’s highest number of children with asthma caused by traffic pollution, the AD reports. The paper cites figures from a report in medical journal The Lancet, which states that one in five Dutch children have pollution-induced asthma, with the number rising to over half in the big cities.

Nitrogen oxide from diesel cars and lorries are the main cause, the researchers said. The report comes in the wake of data published by the environmental air quality watchdog RIVM saying the Randstad urban belt is the most polluted in the Netherlands.

There will also be a parliamentary debate on the government’s clean air accord on Thursday. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children in the Netherlands and some 100,000 children up to 14 suffer from it.

‘They are exposed to air pollution day in and day out. The government must act to protect them, director Michael Rutgers of the pulmonary disease association Longfonds told the paper.

The Longfonds, lung specialists, cardiologists, paediatricians and scientists are handing over a petition to MPs on Tuesday calling for ‘more ambitious’ measures to limit pollution.

These include tackling big polluters, building schools, day care centres and sports fields away from motorways, lowering the maximum speed limit and introducing the pay-per-kilometre scheme earlier than the planned 2030.

‘Nitrogen oxide is a hidden killer. You don’t see it, you don’t notice it but it causes inflammation of lungs. Asthma often begins when children are young. Every day, I see children who are unable to play outside when the weather is fine and children whose lungs are so sensitive they don’t know how to cope with [smog from fireworks on] New Year’s Eve,’ lung specialist Hans in ‘t Veld told AD.

Junior infrastructure minister Stientje van Velthoven’s clean air accord promises to halve the effects on health compared to 2016 by 2030. Between 10,000 and 15,000 people in the Netherlands die from air and noise pollution related causes each year and 1.2 million have some form of respiratory disease.



Dutch are mostly happy – but 400,000 feel left behind, says SCP report

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Divisions between the haves and have-nots have become entrenched in the past 10 years, according to a report from the SCP socio-cultural think tank.

A new report, The Social State of the Netherlands 2019, shows that in general Dutch people are just as contented as they were with their lives in 2008 – giving an average score of 7.8 out of 10.

Improvements in the economy have not affected this contentment rating, says the report – which compares the factual economic and social situation with people’s assessment of how they are feeling.

But, it adds, that there are ‘deep-seated differences’ between the haves and the have-nots in terms of education, income, sickness and psychiatric disorders. It says the numbers of people on a low income are growing and 400,000 people are seriously unhappy, pessimistic about the future and their own opportunities.

It notes that automation and an increasing use of robots have impacted the jobs market, and routine jobs will probably disappear in the future. The report is based on studies the SCP carries out every two years and encompasses the credit crunch and refugee crisis as well as the recent economic boom.


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