The arrival of specialised equipment procured by the National Recovery Programme Bureau (NRPB) for fire suppression and improvement of the landfill management (see related story) is obviously a significant step in efforts to tackle the dump crisis by their use to cover waste buried during the day with a special cement-based layer that combats odours and vermin.

The constant application of this method is also said to help prevent future surface fires that lead to smoke nuisance downwind of the facility. But before it can start, a week of training will be held in working with the new machines and material.

It’s all part of the Emergency Debris Management Project financed from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank. The still-pending removal of boat wrecks in and around Simpson Bay Lagoon is also included.

According to reports early this year, 19 families totalling 30 persons living in certain sections of the landfill would have to temporarily move for the fire suppression activities. Word followed last May that nearby property at Foga had been identified as a suitable alternative location to accommodate them.

NRPB was said to be working on acquiring prefabricated homes, while the residents could also opt for cash to make their own housing arrangements. However, there has been no further word since then on this situation.

Although frustration over how long it’s taking for several “build back better” projects to become a visible reality is understandable, some of that also has to do with lack of information. In this case the public has now at least been made aware of what’s going on at the dump.

The St. Maarten government, NRPB, the World Bank and other entities involved should always remain mindful of the fact that people don’t like to be kept in the dark especially about matters that can have a big impact on their wellbeing and prosperity. Keeping them abreast of the latest developments is crucial in terms of getting their continued cooperation and support.