GEBE Hacking Scandal: A Wake-Up Call for Change

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David Salomon

 

By David Salomon

In March 2022, St. Maarten’s utility company GEBE fell victim to a devastating cyberattack that resulted in the loss of all its billing information. The consequences of this breach have been far-reaching, exposing a web of nepotism and favoritism within the company, which has left us, the citizens, grappling with confusion and soaring bills.

The graph below illustrates the alarming trend in electricity bills since January 2021, with the red trend line showing a steep increase over the years. As a consumer, I have noticed my electricity bill rarely exceeding 100 guilders. However, post-hack, there have been five months where it surpassed this threshold, raising suspicions that the company is attempting to recoup its costs at the expense of consumers. Pair that with no usage corroborating these increased charges and you have a recipe for discontent! This lack of accountability, combined with lackluster leadership that turns a blind eye to rectifying past wrongs, fosters a culture of underperformance without real consequences – a cycle that must end! Wake up St. Maarten! The inefficiencies are hitting us where it hurts, our POCKETS!

The roots of this crisis lie in the practice of appointing friends and family to influential positions, despite their lack of qualifications and aptitude for the roles. From senior management roles to supervisory boards, individuals with questionable qualifications were entrusted with important responsibilities. This nepotism and favoritism fostered an environment where accountability and transparency were thrown to the wind.

The aftermath of the hack has been a nightmare for the people of St. Maarten. We have been receiving exorbitant bills, leaving us puzzled and struggling to comprehend the sudden surge in costs. Many are left with no choice but to endure the difficult process of disputing charges, an annoying task that should not have been necessary.

Furthermore, the lack of transparency and accountability within the current NA/UP government coalition has only exacerbated the crisis. The absence of clear communication from the authorities has left us feeling uninformed and unheard, adding to the frustration and anger.

The situation at GEBE serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for change in our government and institutions. We, the people of St. Maarten, deserve leadership that prioritizes competence, accountability, and the welfare of its citizens. It is time for us to elect representatives who will work diligently to rebuild trust and put an end to the detrimental practice of nepotism and favoritism.

As the next elections approach, the call for change resonates louder than ever. We must demand leaders who will prioritize the interests of the people over personal connections, leaders who will uphold transparency and ensure accountability at every level of governance.

The GEBE hacking scandal is a wake-up call, urging us to forge a new path towards a brighter future. It is an opportunity to elect leaders who will bring back integrity, competency, and a commitment to serve the people. Together, we can build a St. Maarten where transparency, accountability, and genuine leadership prevail, leaving nepotism and favoritism in the past. The time for change is now, and it is in our hands to shape the future we desire for our beloved island.