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New uniforms on International Customs Day

BONAIRE (KRALENDIJK) - The World Customs Organization (WCO) has declared the 26th of January as 'International Customs Day' and this day is celebrated worldwide. This year, the WCO has selected the following theme for the year 2022: 

“Scaling up Customs Digital transformation by embracing a data culture and building a data ecosystem”

In the Caribbean Netherlands, this day will not be celebrated exuberantly this year as usual due to the current situation related to covid-19. However, it was decided to present the new uniform of the Customs Caribbean Netherlands on this day.

The new Customs uniform is a contemporary, wearable and durable uniform that does justice to the versatile work of customs officers. It is chic and tough, radiates authority and reliability and enhances visibility and recognizability. The most notable change in the new uniform is that the color green has been exchanged for blue. In short: a uniform that fits perfectly with the modern enforcement organization that is Customs.

Comfort and functionality

The choice was made for material that offers comfort and functionality, so that Customs employees enjoy working in it. Recycled and sustainable materials have been used as much as possible for the new Customs uniform, in particular recycled polyester, and organic cotton.

Customs Caribbean Netherlands is part of the Belastingdienst Caribisch Nederland (B/CN) and is mainly charged with the supervision of the flow of goods to and from Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba and the levy of ABB on import. As such, it forms part of Dutch Customs. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

Uniform STATIA

Statia Customs

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Old Power Plant on Saba to be converted to Marine Research Station

SABA (FORT BAY) - On January 17th, 2022, Mark Zagers, Managing Director of the Saba Electric Company (SEC), officially handed over the keys to Peter Johnson, President of the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), the new tenant of the old power plant at the Fort Bay harbor. Also present were commissioner, Bruce Zagers, other SCF board members, resident researchers, and staff. After the handover, the group toured and inspected the newly renovated facility.

Due to climate change, overfishing, coastal development and other stresses, coral reefs worldwide are drastically in decline and scientists are racing to save the “rainforest of the sea” from extinction. The facility will provide novel opportunities to conduct coral reef research at an ideal location, adjacent to the Saba Marine Park and near the Saba Bank. The project was initiated in collaboration and with support of the island government.

Kai Wulf, managing director of the SCF, explained: “Our plans are to enhance the building to provide a controlled environment, so called mesocosms, to grow and study reef organisms, to better understand and control factors that impact and promote their wellbeing, with the aim to develop practical solutions to restore marine ecosystems.”

Services provided by Saba’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems are vitally important to the island’s fisheries and tourism industries, with an estimated total economic value of US $29 million per year (TEEB Study, Wolf’s Company 2014).

For example, by cultivating and restocking Diadema sea urchins, important herbivores decimated in the Caribbean by a viral disease during the early 1980s, algae growth that is now smothering and choking corals, could be vastly reduced. Scientists may also be able to develop new techniques to propagate stony coral that is more resilient to rising ocean temperatures and C02 induced acidification.

Successful research and coral restoration practices could bring much publicity and elevate Saba’s visibility internationally. Additionally, the research facility will create a new form of sustainable tourism for Saba, attracting scientists, students and coral reef restoration practitioners to the island. These visitors usually stay for longer periods and often bring family and friends, contributing substantially to the economy to the island. Further benefits will not just include guided tours, but could also provide career options for local students interested in marine biology and engage interested residents in meaningful citizen science.

The finalization of the building modifications approved by SEC and full operational capacity depend on the ability of the SCF and its partners to raise the necessary funding.

Saba Sea Lab Concept 1

“Saba Sea Lab Concept”: concept drawing of future research station 

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WITU calling all members to General membership meeting

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – President of the Windward Island Teachers Union (WITU) Stuart Johnson is calling on all members of the WITU to attend an important General membership meeting.

Johnson in keeping his word will be hosting a virtual general membership meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 26th, 2022 at 6:30 p.m. via the platform ZOOM.

“I need to hear loud and clear for our membership via a mandate of where we will be going next in addressing the challenges we are currently facing in education,” Johnson remarked.

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Police profiles additional traffic accidents causing serious injury and property damage

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In the past week, KPSM’s Traffic Department has handled a number of serious traffic accidents in which people were (seriously) injured and there was a considerable amount of property damage.

Police reiterate its request to all road users, especially motorists, motor bike and scooter riders to adhere to the traffic regulations.

Failure to adhere to traffic regulations is one of the largest causes of accidents with victims. Many of these accidents are related to speeding.

The use of seat belts accounts for a 50-percent reduction in the risk of severe injuries and death.

The correct use of a helmet for two-wheeled vehicles prevents against brain damage, severe injuries, or death. (KPSM)

police acc ins1 tue2501

police acc in2 tue2501

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F3 Fun Free Fitness Center opens on Saba

SABA (THE BOTTOM) —It was a proud moment for owner James Granger when his new F3 Fun Free Fitness Center opened in The Bottom on Saturday, January 22. For Saba, the new fitness center is a very welcome addition to the healthy lifestyle that many residents have adopted.

Present to perform the official opening together with Granger, was Public Health and Sports Commissioner Rolando Wilson. Located in the newly renovated building that used to house the Artisan Foundation, F3 Fun Free Fitness Center has a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment from China.

On behalf of the Public Entity Saba, Wilson congratulated Granger, a  son of the soil  on this milestone and encouraged everyone with a vision and a goal to go for it. “Saba is on the move. Welcome to a new facility where you can come to improve your health at your own time and leisure. Coming to this gym will surely be something to look forward to,” he said in his opening remarks.

Wilson explained that some two years ago Granger approached him with a request to start a fitness center. “He came to me with three thick folders containing his ideas and suggested equipment. He had a small space that he was already using as a gym, but as more people approached him who were seriously interested in getting fit, he had to expand,” the Commissioner said.

Reap benefits

Wilson said he was glad that the Public Entity Saba could reach an agreement with Granger to assist him with this project. “He worked diligently on this project, he persevered, waited patiently for the long-awaited equipment to arrive. And today he has accomplished his goal. He can now reap the benefits of a dream turned to reality,” said Wilson, who immediately signed up to become a member of the fitness center. Saba-born entrepreneur and sports professional Granger (32) returned to Saba from Bonaire in 2019. During his studies ‘Sport en Bewegen level 4’ on Bonaire, Granger worked at the Bon Bida fitness center for two years. “My study field has brought me great experiences towards my professional success,” he said.

Backyard

Granger started F3 Fun Free Fitness in 2019 with just one client: a family member in the backyard of his mother’s house. “We then moved to a small room under my aunt’s house a space holding no more than three clients per workout session. This was manageable until the client-base grow. I knew a bigger location/facility was to come sooner or later.” After a six-month process to study, select and order the equipment, the products were ready for transport from China to Saba with a Dutch shipping company. Granger said that the transport has been a “bit stressful” due to the big worldwide backlog of shipping. “I am very happy that everything has arrived and is up and ready for the community to enjoy and work towards their health and fitness goals,” he said. 

Dream

Granger’s dream was to return to his island of birth and to set up a fitness center where Sabans could exercise and work on their overall fitness and health in general. “Opening a fitness center was one of my goals since 2015. Returning back to Saba in 2019 it was time to prepare myself to take on my goal I had set out to accomplish. All my life I have been a part of sports. As I got older, I turned to fitness, adapting my mindset towards healthy living.”

Granger is a successful athlete. Since 2018 he has taken part in various running events of different distances in several islands/countries, including the Bonaire Budget Marina Triathlon run, the Curaçao Half Marathon 21km run, the Saba Triathlon run, the Rotterdam 42km marathon, the Bonaire Guardian Group 8km run, the Aruba Half Marathon 21km run, three Saba Bizzy B 5k runs, the St. Maarten Coors Light Marathon 10km run, the St. Maarten Boardwalk Triathlon run and the St. Maarten 10km Holidays Run.

Reconstruction

The building in which the F3 Fun Free Fitness Center is located used to house the Artisan Foundation, a non-profit organization that specialized in printing t-shirts, dresses and curtains, and where hand-made souvenirs were sold. The building, owned by the Public Entity Saba, suffered damage during Hurricane Irma early September 2017. Since its reconstruction, part of the building is used by the Saba Reach Foundation. The other part of the building now houses the F3 Fun Free Fitness.

The new gym fits well in the healthy lifestyle that the Public Entity Saba has been actively promoting with the financial assistance of the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport VWS. Together with the different sports organizations and stakeholders, multiple sports events and initiatives are being organized such as the Bizzy B 5K race, the Sea to Scenery, the Saba Triathlon, Fit with Lee classes and other events.

Customer service

F3 Fun Free Fitness Center has a range from cardio, strength training and basic fitness levels. The center is opened from Monday to Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. F3 Fun Free Fitness Center has customer service during the opening hours in the day. Persons, both residents and visitors, can walk in for information. A fitness instructor is at hand for members who want to receive instructions and guidance throughout the fitness center. The front desk is available for questions and sign ups of future members.

Interior Fun Free Fitness 02

Fun Free Fitness interior 01

 

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Arrests made by Alpha team related to drug smuggling and false travel docs

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - On 20 January 2022, in connection with an ongoing investigation, the Alpha Team arrested two men with the initials D.A.S. (54) and N.C. (53) respectively for their involvement in a drug smuggling offense that took place on the 19 January 2022, at Princess Juliana International Airport. 

The suspect with initials N.C. was released after interrogation. The other suspect remains in police custody in pending the further investigation.

Also on 20 January, a national of the Dominican Republic with initials R.E.D.D. (27) was intercepted by immigration officers when she attempted to enter the country with a falsified document.

The Alpha Team was notified and assisted with the arrest of the suspect. The suspect was interrogated and will remain in police custody in pending the further investigation.

The Alpha Team is a joint multidisciplinary team comprising KPSM, the Customs Department, the Immigration Department, the Koninklijke Marechaussee and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard. (KPSM)

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Two suspects arrested for illegal firearm possession

SINT MAARTEN (MAHO) - Two young men with initials M.A.J. and A.E. respectively were arrested by police in the Maho Village for illegal firearm possession. 

Central Dispatch received a report on Saturday after 8:00pm of a number of young men behaving very suspiciously in the proximity of a jewelry store in Maho.

When the police patrol arrived on location, they spotted two young men who matched the given description. 

During a search, the young men were found to be in possession of a firearm with live rounds of ammunition. The firearm was confiscated by police and the young men arrested. They were transported to Philipsburg Police Station for further questioning.

The Police Force of St. Maarten KPSM has taken a hard stance on illegal firearm possession. Tackling illegal firearm possession is of paramount importance to KPSM for the overall safety and security of the community and for KPSM officers who are on the frontline of community protection every day. 

In cases of suspected firearm possession, police officers are trained to tackle the situation rapidly to prevent any escalation and possible harm to themselves, their team, and/or bystanders. The handling of the Maho incident was such a circumstance. (KPSM)

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64 New COVID-19 Cases. 1542 Active Cases

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As of January 21st, there were sixty-four (64) persons who tested positive for COVID-19; however, three hundred ninety-eight (398) persons have recovered; bringing the total active cases to one thousand five hundred forty-two (1542) of which one thousand seven (1107) are locals, four hundred ten (410) are tourists and twenty-four (24) persons are awaiting classification. The total number of confirmed cases has increased to nine thousand twenty-nine (9029).

The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) are monitoring one thousand five hundred twenty-nine (1529) people in home isolation. Thirteen (13) patients are hospitalized at the St. Maarten Medical Center. The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 has increased to seventy-seven (77).

The number of people recovered since the first case surfaced on St. Maarten has increased to seven thousand four hundred ten (7410). Zero (0) persons are in quarantine based on contact tracing investigations carried out by CPS.

As the numbers continue to fluctuate, CPS will continue to actively execute its contact tracing measures.

Minister Ottley urges the public to remain cautious, for your safety avoid mass gatherings, conduct safety testing, and follow the COVID-19 protocols.

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Disciplinary Action Against Former Ennia Auditors

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Today, Friday, January 21, 2022, the Auditor’s Office in Zwolle rendered its decision in the disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS), also on behalf of Ennia, against two of Ennia’s former auditors.

The Auditor's Office ruled that the auditors had acted in violation of the fundamental principles of professionalism and due diligence on several counts. As a disciplinary action, the Auditor's Office has ordered that both auditors be temporarily removed from the register.

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Rising inflation in the Caribbean Netherlands

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - In Q4 2021, consumer goods and services on Bonaire were 5.7 percent more expensive than one year previously. The inflation rate was still 4.3 percent in Q3. Year-on-year, the price of electricity rose by 31.1 percent and the price of water by 6.7 percent. The price of petrol was 26.6 percent up on Q4 2020. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) based on the consumer price index for the Caribbean Netherlands.

On St Eustatius, prices were up by 2.5 percent year-on-year. This was still 2.4 percent in Q3. On Saba, the inflation rate rose from 3.2 to 3.7 percent in Q4. This was mainly attributable to rapidly rising prices of petrol as well as products for maintenance and repair of dwellings. Petrol on Saba was 27.6 percent more expensive than one year previously.

0.6-percent price increase on Statia relative to the previous quarter

On St Eustatius, in Q4 2021 consumer prices rose by 0.6 percent relative to Q3, when prices were up by 1.6 percent. Education had a downward effect on the index with a drop of 8.2 percent, due to price reductions of various online courses. Petrol rose 3.7 percent in price and diesel 3.8 percent relative to Q3 2021. Clothing and footwear fell by 3.5 percent.

Saba recorded 0.6-percent price increase on Q3

In Q4 2021, consumers on Saba paid on average 0.6 percent more for goods and services than in the previous quarter. In Q3, the increase was still 1.7 percent. Transport became 1.3 percent more expensive relative to Q3, due to increased prices of petrol and diesel. Housing rose by 1.2 percent due to increased prices of building materials. With a decline of 3.8 percent, education had a dampening effect on inflation as various online courses dropped in price. Prices of clothing and footwear fell by 3.5 percent.

Prices on Bonaire 1.8 percent up on the previous quarter

Relative to Q3 2021, prices rose by 1.8 percent on Bonaire in Q4. This was mainly due to the discontinuation of the utility allowances as of December 2021, which resulted in an increase of 9.2 percent for electricity and 5.6 percent for water. The costs of transport also rose, by 2.0 percent. Petrol went up by 6.2 percent and diesel by 6.7 percent relative to the previous quarter. Prices of clothing and footwear fell by 3.1 percent.

Provisional figures

Figures over Q4 2021 are provisional and will become definitive upon publication of the figures over Q1 2022.

Papiamentu

A Papiamentu translation of this news release can be obtained from Statistics Netherlands’ office on Bonaire by sending a request via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sources:

StatLine: Caribbean Netherlands

https://opendata.cbs.nl/#/CBS/en/dataset/84046ENG/table?dl=22EB4

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