Caretaker Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Christopher Wever echoed a sentiment shared by many in Tuesday’s paper that not enough homes damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 are being repaired. While several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) and the Red Cross did their part making use of early emergency assistance from the Netherlands, and the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) is also executing house-rebuilding projects, government’s own pilot in cooperation with the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) financed from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, according to Wever, has only 40 candidates.
Less than three weeks ago Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel submitted a community outreach report to Parliament urging to improve the pace of home repair, review the eligibility criteria for such and take extenuating circumstances into consideration. The viewing of a short film based on case studies in several districts around that same time sparked emotions among some of those directly affected who were present.
Mind you, there is no reason whatsoever to believe anyone at the NRPB or even the World Bank would hold up matters on purpose, although the latter institution’s strict procurement rules and procedures are certainly said to play a role. Nevertheless, over two years have passed and to still speak of a “pilot” at this stage is indeed reason for justified concern.
The same applies to the boat wreckage and debris removal from Simpson Bay Lagoon and surroundings that is obviously very important for the local tourism economy in general and particularly the yachting sector. How much longer will the country and its people have to wait?