PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Telling protesting fire-fighters to “go come back”, is typical attitude of the government of St. Maarten who cannot seem to understand its people, and the protection of its people, should always come first. So says Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Thursday after personnel of the Fire Department was told by the Prime Minister that she is “busy in another meeting come back tomorrow.”
“Mind you, these are men and women who run into fires to save lives and are forced to do so, God forbid, with equipment that is old, useless and unsafe. If a fire breaks out now, fire personnel will have to decide if to respond or if risk their own lives and fight the fire with sneakers on because most of the boots are past their prime. I have no doubt that they will respond, but look at the decision they will have to make. People with families, with children, are forced to work like this because their government doesn’t think it important enough to address their issues post haste,” MP Emmanuel said.
The MP said he understood from fire personnel than many letters have been sent to the government advising of the increasingly bad situation, to no avail. So the government, the MP said, cannot say it didn’t know. “What is clear is, they didn’t think it was important enough. And then the body language of the Prime Minister in addressing these men and women is cringe worthy, topped off by turning around and walking away. That is how much they care,” MP Emmanuel said.
MP Emmanuel said the situation is “sad and unfortunate” again places workers on the back burner of government priorities. He said the Fire Department personnel are just the latest group of workers who are victimized by the government. He said in most civilized countries, a government would take care of its general population by ensuring that the people who serve that population in emergencies and care are taken care of and have what they need. On St. Maarten, he added, the government treats police officers, fire personnel and teachers like afterthoughts.
“Let us not forget, this is the same government that cut income and benefits of civil servants and other workers, the same government that cannot handle police situations with compensation, the same government that killing seniors with tax inspectors that are showing up at their doors, the same government that put teachers and school boards against each other by passing of those abusive laws, the same government that has civil servants working under clouds of fear and reprisals.”
“People are not their concern. People are collateral damage. They have proven it over and over again. They will handle your issue when they are good and ready to do so. That example was clearly shown again today when the Prime Minister turned her back on the fire fighters,” MP Emmanuel concluded.