SXM Local News: Dutch Commit €550 million, Viking Ship Set to Port December 4, Roof Repairs to Begin

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has formally committed 550 million euro to fund reconstruction in St. Maarten. An additional 67 million euro will be committed to St. Eustatius and Saba. The funds will be made available in tranches as projects are completed.

These funds will be made available by the Dutch as soon as they receive formal approval from the government of St. Maarten. On Thursday, November 2, Parliament voted to approve the Dutch conditions of an Integrity Chamber and stricter border controls. So it’s not entirely clear what additional approval the Dutch need on that front.

It’s more likely that the Dutch want to ensure St. Maarten has a stable government in place before they release any funding. They’re awaiting word from St. Maarten Governor Eugene Holiday to determine the best way to proceed. Elections in St. Maarten are currently set to be held on January 8, 2018, but there’s a chance funding could be released before then if the Governor agrees that an interim government would comply with the Dutch conditions.

Viking sets date for return to Sint Maarten

Viking Cruise Lines has confirmed that they will return to Sint Maarten on December 4, 2017. This is the first commitment that Sint Maarten has received from any cruise line since the original port dates in early November were scrapped.

Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of effort put into getting Philipsburg and the rest of the island cleaned and ready to support the arrival of tourists to the island. Just last week, Rotary Club of Sint Maarten led a drive to help clean up Philipsburg and Mullet Bay (read more about that here).

There is still no word from the larger cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean as to when they plan to return. The hope is that they will follow suit now that Viking has announced their return. Viking ships are much smaller than the Carnival and Royal Caribbean ships, carrying 930 passengers maximum versus several thousand.

Roof repair program

The government of Sint Maarten has established a fund of approximately $1.7 million to repair damaged roofs on the island. The repair program is set to begin on Saturday and the government estimates that 300 roofs will be repaired before Christmas.

Of course, the fact that this is finally happening more than two months after Hurricane Irma tore roofs off, is a prime example of the disfunction that has taken hold in the government of Sint Maarten. Although, the fact remains that this is a step in the right direction, albeit a delayed one.

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Jon Ferlise

I fell in love with the island of Saint Martin the first time I visited to celebrate my 40th birthday in May of 2009. Since then, I've spent most birthdays there, and have visited countless other times getting to know this wonderful place and the friendly locals that make it so special. I adore the culture, the people, the community, and the beauty of this stunning island. SXM Strong is a website that I started to support humanitarian relief efforts following Hurricane Irma. There was no plan, it just evolved as I witnessed the devastation that Irma caused the island and the huge need to communicate and disseminate information about what had happened and how people could help support this island and its people.

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