Christophe Emmanuel: Let’s try a different approach

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PHILIPSBURG – Minister of VROMI Christophe Emmanuel assured St. Maarten citizens, in Wednesday’s, January 11, Press Briefing, that he and his Ministry were “working diligently with all the aspects, and the things that we spoke about earlier concerning the sewage water in the neighborhood, the garbage, that’s one of our main objectives and priority that we are working on very, very hard, and very soon we will be bringing forward the solution for Districts five and six.”

He said that, “The contractors have collaborated with each other to solve that problem concerning the overflowing of bins, and getting larger bins for specific areas in those two districts.”

He mentioned the role GEBE has in the society, and the possibility of replacing the GEBE houses, which are “slabs of grey concrete, which are just put down, and have a meter box and stuff in it. There’s grass growing in it.” He said those areas can be cleaned up, and beautified.

In addition, he spoke about the community of Cay Bay, and how GEBE and Sol can “take a more community role in that area in terms of seeing what plans and ideas they can come up with concerning the running water in that area.”

He said he had meetings with the managers or the department heads, and termed those meetings as “fruitful.” Out of those discussions, several issues in the community were highlighted like the number of sewage pits, “which are simply not working anymore… They need to be replaced.”

The situation with the beautification of Philipsburg also has his attention. “In my opinion bricks is not working,” he stated. He mentioned looking at different ways the Philipsburg Community Council could make Philipsburg more accessible to all citizens and visitors.

“We need to start prioritizing what needs to be done. Philipsburg needs to be done, and it needs to be done correct. It needs to be done right one time. Not every minute we have to go back, dig it up to replace the bricks, go back, dig it up, and replace the bricks. I think it’s a discussion we also need to have with Philipsburg Community Council, if that’s what the name is,” he continued.

Some of his ideas regarding Philipsburg, also include making it wheelchair accessible with ramps for persons with disabilities; removing “those green things along the side;” and coming up with other alternatives to laying bricks in the road.

“At some point in time, we need to look at different things in our society and say we have been doing this for a very long time and it’s not working. Let’s try a different approach,” he stressed.

When asked about the situation at Weymouth Hill, he said, “The first part of Weymouth Hill is to be paved.” However, because the road is considered private in some parts, “government and the stakeholders, the private owners have come together” to work on a plan to have the road finished.

He further said on Friday he intends to tour the landfill, and invited residents to “Come and see what we have created.”

“So when you think it’s easy just to take your fridge and your old mattress and your old stove and just buy them and dump it and forget about it.  It ends up somewhere. At some point in time we need to understand that you can be trained… It just can’t work anymore,” he emphasized.

“It needs to start in the home, so I mean who wants to come can come, and take a look at it, but you need to really see,” he continued.

“It’s not just a government issue, it’s a community, it’s a St. Maarten issue,” he stated.

In conclusion, Emmanuel reiterated that, “The landfill waste energy garbage has the attention of the Ministry of VROMI; has the attention of GEBE; has the attention of the professionals…I can safely say that waste-to-energy will come to St. Maarten. It will be built.”