Consumers Coalition questions the status of emergency repairs | THE DAILY HERALD

Claire Elshot-Aventurin and Raymond Jessurun.

PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Consumers Coalition says with the start of this year’s hurricane season, the repair and reconstruction programmes are long overdue for completion.

“The home repair after [Hurricane – Ed.] Irma, according to the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) website, started with a 14-home pilot programme and 26 minor repair-home programmes,” said the Consumers Coalition on Thursday.

According to the coalition, a 200-home construction project was signed, but up until now no updates have been provided on the completion of all these homes. Many unsatisfied consumers have filed complaints with the coalition, which in turn, has addressed the complaints to the NRPB.

“Thirteen shelters had to be in place already before the hurricane season of 2018, just after Irma passed. We are now in 2020,” said the coalition.

The coalition said after visiting the NRPB’s website to find out more information on the status of the shelter repairs that started in August 2018, it was surprised to find that the two-month project has no clear indication of its completion from the NRPB.

“In April 2018, the Dutch government signed an Administration Agreement with the World Bank to manage a total of US $548.5 million in a Trust Fund for the after-Irma recovery in St. Maarten. Since Hurricane Irma, two of the four instalments were deposited, totalling US $305.7 million. Liquidity support was granted to government in 2018,” said the coalition.

The coalition said that the Emergency Recovery Project (ERP) was approved on July 10, 2018.

According to the coalition, the project was intended to finance the repair of critical infrastructure, including the police stations, shelters and schools. The project would secure emergency equipment and training for first responders; finance the restoration and upgrading of the electricity and water system of NV GEBE; and assist homeowners with repairs to their homes as a result of damage sustained after the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

They further questioned, “How many homes have been repaired? How many schools have been reconstructed?”

“How many shelters have been made ready now that we start the hurricane season? Since July 2018, only US $11.5 million has been paid out of the total of US $55.2 million. That is 21 per cent of the funds estimated for this ‘emergency recovery’,” said the coalition.

The coalition warned, “This week the weather experts made it clear we can expect an above-average active hurricane season this year. How ready is St. Maarten for the upcoming hurricane season?”

Source: The Daily Herald