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A Robust Maintenance Program Needed at Cargo Facility, says Grisha.

grishaport19062024PHILIPSBURG:--- Hon. Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies have agreed on the necessity to implement a robust maintenance program at the Cargo facility to enhance operational efficiency, safety, and cost management.
At a meeting held recently, the port made a commitment to prioritize the issue of maintenance and will work closely with the Ministry of TEATT to ensure that its operations align with St. Maarten’s economic and food security needs.
During a working visit to the Cargo facility, Heyliger-Marten emphasized the need for a proactive and systematic maintenance program. “This is crucial to ensure operational efficiency, safety, cost management, and regulatory compliance,” she told Port St. Maarten CEO Alex Gumbs.
Heyliger-Marten and Gumbs discussed the impact of delays on costs, highlighting the fact that extended docking times for cargo ships result in increased port fees, potential demurrage charges, and overall higher operational costs. Such delays reduce the port’s capacity to handle additional vessels, leading to congestion and lost business opportunities.
Moreover, inefficient operations could deter shipping lines from choosing Port St. Maarten for transshipment activities, thus reducing the port’s competitiveness.
The minister pointed out that efficient use of port infrastructure is critical for maximizing throughput and minimizing costs. Faster turnaround times allow for more ships to be serviced, increasing the port’s capacity and revenue.
In addition, Heyliger-Marten said efficient operations enhance resource allocation, reducing idle time and improving productivity. “A well-maintained and efficient port provides a competitive advantage, attracting long-term business from shipping lines,” the minister stressed.
Heyliger-Marten expressed serious concern about the hurricane season, which started officially on June 1, and emphasized that a lack of maintenance at the Cargo facility could exacerbate damage to port facilities in the event of the island being hit by a storm.
“Given the Port’s role as a lifeline for the island, any disruption during the hurricane season could severely impact the importation of essential goods,” the minister noted.
“The safety of nearly one hundred workers in the Port and hundreds of residents nearby is of primary concern to me,” she said. “Ensuring that the Port infrastructure can withstand severe weather events is crucial to safeguarding lives and maintaining operations during and after hurricanes,” she added.
The minister reiterated government’s support in providing the necessary resources for oversight to facilitate the improvements that were discussed. Both parties agreed to schedule follow-up meetings to monitor progress and address any emerging issues.

TEATT Minister Says Port St. Maarten Efficiency Directly Linked to Food Security.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The island’s heavy dependence on food importation makes port efficiency directly linked to food security, said TEATT Minister Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
At a meeting last Friday, the Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT), told Alex Gumbs, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Port St. Maarten Group of Companies that delays at the port can disrupt the supply chain, leading to shortages and higher prices of essential food items.
“Diverting ships to other ports due to inefficiencies at ours increases transportation costs, further impacting food prices,” the minister said.
According to her, efficient handling of perishable goods is critical to prevent spoilage and economic waste. She added that a reliable port operation ensures a steady flow of imports, essential for maintaining stable food supplies and prices.
Heyliger-Marten emphasized the importance of food sustainability, which involves maintaining a stable and secure food supply without compromising future needs. She stressed the need to build resilient supply chains, as well as encouraging domestic food production, minimizing food waste, and ensuring environmentally sustainable practices.
The minister stressed that the efficient use of Port St. Maarten infrastructure is critical for maximizing throughput and minimizing costs. Faster turnaround times allow for more ships to be serviced, she noted, thus increasing the port’s capacity and revenue.
In her opinion, efficient operations enhance resource allocation, thereby reducing idle time and improving productivity. “A well-maintained and efficient Port provides a competitive advantage, attracting long-term business from shipping lines,” said the minister.


COVID-19:Surge of the virus in cities, and in health establishments.

~ A reminder of public health precautionary measures.~

MARIGOT:--- Over the past two weeks, Public Health France has observed an increase in the circulation of COVID-19 in town and within health or medico-social establishments. Clustered cases are identified within establishments requiring teams to review the barrier measures in place.
To prevent the development of respiratory viral infections and limit their impact on the health system, the ARS of Guadeloupe, Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthélemy reminds of simple everyday gestures:

- Wash your hands regularly;
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow;
- Use single-use paper tissues;
- Wear a mask if you are sick or likely to be sick, especially in the presence of fragile people
- Limit going out into enclosed spaces or places with high traffic when you are sick;
- Pay attention to the protection of the most vulnerable in the event of a visit to health establishments or
- If you have symptoms of infection, contact your doctor or call 15.
Vaccination remains strongly recommended for the most fragile and vulnerable people (pregnant women, people aged over 65, or those suffering from chronic illnesses or severe obesity).


Statian Bocce Ball Champion First to Receive New Book on Slavery.

sabasports18062024PHILIPSBURG:--- Gold and bronze medal winner at the Special Olympics that just finished in the Netherlands, Jurgen Leon of St. Eustatius, was the first one of the Dutch Caribbean islands to receive a copy of the newly released book “From Slavery to Freedom.” Jurgen was in the Netherlands to compete in the bocce ball tournament as part of the Special Olympics Kingdom Games that were held in Breda and Tilburg from 14-16 June. He won a gold medal in the doubles together with his teammate Lejairo Lake and a bronze in the singles.
While in the Netherlands, St. Eustatius historian Walter Hellebrand attended the games to congratulate Jurgen on his success and to present him with the book ‘Van Slavernij naar Vrijheid” that was published last month. The book presents the first-ever collection of prose and poetry about slavery by authors from the Kingdom on both sides of the Atlantic, also including Surinam. Hellebrand wrote the contribution from St. Eustatius. His story is about the Statia Slave Revolt of 1848 that he rediscovered in the archives in 2012.
The book – with a target audience of young adults (15+) - is an initiative of Loekie Morales’ Beyond Kultura Events Foundation and published by LM Publishers. In addition to Hellebrand’s story, it contains contributions from authors from St. Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao, Bonaire, Surinam and the Netherlands. While an English edition is being worked on, it is now only available in Dutch. However, Jurgen Leon said that was no problem for him as he receives classes in Dutch as part of his tuition at St. Eustatius’ Gwendoline Van Putten School.

MP Wescot wants the TNO “Energy Transition” report urgently in parliament. “Enough studies on alternative and renewable energy”.

PHILIPSBURG:--- The TNO report was commissioned by the Dutch government to assess the needs of the Caribbean countries as they seek to transition to more sustainable energy solutions. The report should serve as a basis for the Dutch funding program SDE ++ and has recently been presented to the Second Chamber, the MP explained. “From that report, we see again how far behind we are on the topic of renewable energy”.

“It is like I made clear during the parliamentary meeting on Monday. We can not put off decisions on renewable energy transition until we are out of the current energy dilemma. We have not accomplished much in better times, except for a very ambitious energy policy that never really saw the light of day”.

I have asked that the mentioned TNO report be a topic for a committee meeting of parliament, so we can keep the pressure on the implementation of an alternative energy policy by the government of St. Maarten. I have reasoned in my request for a meeting on renewable energy that this report, compiled by TNO, examined the state of the energy transition in the so-called CAS countries, MP Wescot further stated.
In the Central Committee meeting of Monday, June 17th, only sporadic mention was made of the Dutch funding program(s) available to the Caribbean countries, and with the frequent annotation thereby that a St. Maarten energy transition plan is necessary to initiate talks with the Dutch government regarding available funding for alternative and renewable energy conversion.
“There also appeared to be some reluctance to pursue an energy transition program at this time due to the magnitude of the energy crisis the country currently finds itself in. St. Maarten has to get to the forefront of this program and react to the TNO study with urgency.”
The government of St. Maarten needs to take a stance on this report and adjust our energy goals with haste. We do not need another study, as the expertise to get us there is available.
It’s unfortunate that we have not synchronized our efforts to embark on a sustainable path of energy transition, rather each party is pursuing its own, Government of Sint Maarten: Gridmarket, GEBE: Energynautics and the Netherlands: TNO.
With the above, the MP outlined her reasons for an urgent meeting of the VROMI committee of Parliament with “the respective minister(s) and other stakeholders which the government of St. Maarten believes can contribute to arriving at an urgent combined plan for energy transition”.
MP Wescot concluded with two other reasons for prompt action, namely to ensure that with the new government of the Netherlands taking office shortly, St. Maarten’s part in the funding program (SDE ++) is guaranteed.
And the MP continued, “The added value of this proactive approach is that we can turn around the negative image and reputation labels that we are slowly but surely being “branded” with. It’s like when the fact of us being in the hurricane belt is used against us, and we would turn that around and highlight the resilience of the St. Maarten people, in and out of season.”

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