SUCKER GARDEN–The constant fires that consume the dump towering over Philipsburg and its environs requires not a singular effort of one group or political party, but an urgent and targeted joint response of everyone in charge – from Parliament to Government to each person in the community, said United People’s (UP) party deputy leader Member of Parliament Franklin Meyers.
“I have always referred to and will continue to point out that the issue we face with the dump is a St. Maarten problem. It is not a problem belonging to one party or group. It is a hazard we all face jointly. To put an effective solution in place, we call need to be moving in the same direction, rowing our boat the same way,” said Meyers.
The severe fires on the dump coated not only neighbourhoods in the direct path of the wind flow last week. The most ferocious of the fires sent plumes of smoke over Sentry Hill all the way to Cole Bay and Simpson Bay. “We do not need the distance the smoked travelled to emphasise how dire this problem is,” he said.
Meyers said he is well aware if he or UP leader MP Theo Heyliger had been in office the flare ups at the dumps would have caused even more outcry from the population. “We are expected to deliver and to solve problems facing our community. Being in opposition, we still get calls for action from the people we represent and even people who have not showed their support for us at the last polls. They, just as we do, know that when the smoke clears the goal is betterment for St. Maarten,” he said.
Meyers called on Government to post haste present its solution to Parliament to solve the dump situation. Saying it is a high priority or has the attention of the coalition is “not even near to enough anymore,” he said.
To speed up the process, Meyers said his party will request a sitting of Parliament to get from Government its solution and execution plan to tackle the health hazard that is that dump.
There is also an urgent need for research to be carried out about the health hazard posed by the smoke and chemicals emitted from the dump, said Meyers, a former Public Health Commissioner. It is not secret that the number of people with respiratory problems appears to be on the increase.
“I am asthmatic and so is the current Minister of VROMI Christophe Emmanuel. We both know what it is to gasp for air and to suffer from respiratory issues,” Meyers said, adding, “Too many people, especially our elderly and children, are greatly affected. The general quality of life for our people is declining.”
Solving the problem of the dump will not happen overnight, he said. A structured solution will require time. “However, as legislators and as government, we need to get on the same page and make this happen as quick as possible. Again, this is not an issue belonging to one party or group. This is St. Maarten issue and we are all at risk if non-action persists,” Meyers said.