St. Martin News Network

Apr 21st
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As of the 1st April, pensioners are now being charged USD45 to view their favorite television programs supplied by Statia Cable TV. For the last few years, this provider has maintained fees at USD30 for local residents over the age of 65. But such a spike in the cost of viewing has not been welcomed by the Island's increasing number of senior citizens.
I am one such pensioner who thinks that the television cable provider has gone too far. It is pure profiteering. The cable company thinks it has a monopoly like Winair to jack-up fees when it wants for its customers. My pension has only risen by three percent this year but the new owners of the cable company have hiked up their charges by 50 per cent. So much for their community spirit! They put profit before pensioners. They are cashing-in by exploiting those who are often the poorest and most vulnerable members of our island society.
But for many of these retired people, television is often the main source of enjoyment. This move for money is not only greedy but also amounts to age discrimination. Typically, the elderly do not have the skills to switch over to internet based alternatives. Statia Cable TV has not taken into account the law of diminishing returns. When I complained about the new charge at the TV cable office, I was greeted with dismissive arrogance and loud rudeness. This is how they reward long standing and thus loyal customers.
Switch-off and switch-over
I understand that Eutel is planning to launch an alternative and cheaper television service next year. If that is the case, many households including pensioners will switch-off and switch-over. You can use your television remote control to choose the channel but common sense controls where you shop for your signal. Many television screens on Statia will go out as the poorest section of the Island's society dumps the costly fable cable. From now on, I shall refuse to pay the TV fee and I will use my PC for news and views.
Owners of the cable company are Saba Communications N.V. However, viewers on Saba are only charged USD 30. Nevertheless, the cable provider is 'shooting itself in the foot'.
Consumers on Saba are also not satisfied with the same cable company on that island. Many households have replaced their local cable provider through the purchase of a dish and decoder. The general consensus is that the cable service leaves much to be desired. To date there seems to have been no significant change: blocks still pop-up on the screen asking for the consumer to pay his or her bill, while the consumer is paid up!
Many folks on the island of Saba have been criticizing the cable TV management and rightly so. The service is less than acceptable and immediate improvement is required or many more will turn their back on the local cable service provider. They will seek an alternative to view their favorite programs and to remain up-to-date with world and regional news!
Searching questions about the cable TV and their concession are expected to be asked at the next open public Central Committee Meeting on St. Eustatius.

James Russell

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 April 2014 21:29 )


Tsunami warning exercise and Chile earthquake/tsunami demonstrates need for country contingency planning.

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Dear Editor,

The timing of the 26 March UNESCO CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 2014 third earthquake/tsunami exercise was held a week before Chile's 8.2 earthquake that triggered a six foot tsunami. 24 hours later a 7.6 magnitude earthquake was reported. The first earthquake/tsunami left six people dead, destroyed 2,600 houses and led to mass evacuations of coastal areas. Nearly one million people were evacuated across Chile after a tsunami warning was issued.

In 1960 an area of Chile was hit by a 9.5 magnitude quake which caused over 1600 deaths and a tsunami that traveled across the Pacific Ocean all the way to Hawaii and Japan.

Country Sint Maarten is also at risk for a tsunami caused by an earthquake or underwater volcanic eruption, and hence, the country should be prepared for such an eventuality including the continuity of governance in such a natural disaster event which could even be worse than the 1995 hurricane Luis.

Training exercises are very important and at the same time, preparing the nation for such an eventuality. Today's thinking is not when it will happen, it's how prepared are we? Are we planning for such an eventuality?

The level of participation in the tsunami warning exercise on March 26 in the Caribbean was unprecedented compared with similar exercises in 2011 and 2013. It reflects the commitment of the countries concerned and a growing awareness of the tsunami threat in the region.

A total of 31 Member States (UNESCO) and 16 of the territories in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions participated. In addition, 230,000 people participated in the test, a 75 per cent increase compared to 2011 and 300 per cent more than in 2013.

Two scenarios were developed for the exercise this year. The first simulated a tsunami generated by an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter scale originating 270 km in the South West of Portugal in the Atlantic Ocean. This scenario was modeled after an actual earthquake and tsunami that occurred on 1 November 1755. This tsunami devastated Lisbon, Portugal and also affected the coasts of Spain, North Africa, and the Caribbean. It took nine hours for the tsunami to reach the Caribbean (Antigua).

The second scenario simulated a tsunami generated by an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 which triggered a submarine landslide in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to UNCESCO Director General, Irina Bokova, the success of this year's tsunami warning exercise demonstrates the maturity of the Tsunami Early Warning System implemented in the region in 2005, adding that cooperation between States and specialized institutions, and the preparation of local populations is crucial, to address tsunami-related risks, mitigate their impact and save lives.

The goal of CARIBE WAVE/LANTEX 2014 third earthquake/tsunami exercise was to test the readiness of the countries in the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions to respond to a distant tsunami. Over the last 500 years, 75 tsunamis have occurred in the Caribbean and this figure represents about 10 per cent of the entire number of oceanic tsunamis in the world during that period. More than 3,500 people were killed in the region since the mid-19th century.

Contingency planning is a component of a much broader emergency preparedness process that includes items such as business practices, operational continuity, and disaster recovery planning. Preparing for such an event often involves implementing policies and processes at an organizational level and may require numerous plans to properly prepare for, respond to, recover from, and continue activities if impacted by an event.

As part of a comprehensive risk management approach, contingency planning would identify potential vulnerabilities and threats and then implement approaches to deal with the potential impact. Contingency plans must also be maintained as living documents requiring regular updates to reflect changes based on socio-economic-national development factors.

The existence and sustainability of the country is at stake and every resident and business has a stake in the aforementioned, hence why country contingency planning is so important.

Roddy Heyliger

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 April 2014 00:49 )