I&W Delegation visits Saba

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On April 16th and 17th, a delegation from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management visited Saba. The delegation was headed by the Director General for Environment and International Affairs at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W), Afke van Rijn, with her team, Sebe Buitenkamp and Milton Horn.

Their visit began with a tour of the solar park, accompanied by Governor Jonathan Johnson and Island Secretary Bram Streppel. They were hosted by Managing Director of Saba Electric, Mark Zagers, who expressed his thanks to various Ministries and funding agencies for assisting with the building of the solar park. He also described the challenges faced such as the rising cost of fuel and equipment.

A visit to the Hell’s Gate Guts followed as Governor Johnson explained various issues surrounding this area such as illegal dumping of garbage and erosion. 

On the 17th of April, at Saba Splash, the delegation was welcomed by Oscar Vander Kaap who gave a tour of the facility. He explained the process of how the water is filtered, the addition of the minerals in accordance with Dutch law and the bottling process. He stated that testing on St. Maarten continues for each batch and indicated that while 60% of the population uses Saba Splash, there is still capacity to grow, with hopes for further reducing the cost.

Following this, a meeting was held between the delegation and Department Heads of Waste Management, Policy and Project Bureau and Infrastructural and Spatial Development. One of the main discussion points was clarity on the upcoming implementation of the IAB BES and how the Ministry of IenW, along with the Inspectorate for Human Environment and Transport (ILT), would work with PES in actualizing this goal. The delegation team also acknowledged the unique situation on Saba which must be taken into consideration.

In the afternoon, the delegation joined Zelda Meeuwsen, Head of Infrastructural & Spatial Development, Courtney Hassell, Policy Advisor, and Mark Zagers at Fort Bay. Meeuwsen showed the location for the new Black Rocks Harbor and shared the plans and timeline for construction, while Zagers presented the potential location of the new solar park. Zagers shared his concerns about drainage and runoff into the ocean as there is growing concern for the environment. Hassell reiterated this, citing the decline in coral from around thirty percent coverage in the 1990’s to just eight percent now, which encourages Saba to work more towards protecting the environment when making strides to becoming more self-sufficient.

The delegation then visited the waste management facility. Waste Management Department Head, Roxanne Simmons, explained the process of exporting the waste and the changes that have been made from the beginning of the year. She also expressed the challenge related to community involvement as efforts are still being made to encourage people to dispose of their waste responsibly via the correct bins.

During their last stop at the Saba Research Center, Alwin Hylkema shared information on various projects such as the Diadema-Sea urchin research which focuses on restoring the coral reefs around Saba.

The delegation left on April 17th with the Makana ferry, going onward to Sint Eustatius.