Sjaak Remmits Royal Haskoning DHV and road projects manager Economy and Infrastructure Interim Director Anthony Reid; Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco; Deputy Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers; and Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management representative Marcelle van Valkenburg.
- EUSTATIUS–The road network and combating erosion were the main items discussed during a town hall meeting at Mike van Putten Youth Center on September 4.
The panel consisted of Government Commissioner Marcolino “Mike” Franco; Deputy Government Commissioner Mervyn Stegers; Economy and Infrastructure Interim Director Anthony Reid; Sjaak Remmits Royal Haskoning DHV, and road projects manager Marcelle van Valkenburg.
Franco said one of their biggest priorities was the poor conditions of Statia’s roads. A total of US $5.6 million is budgeted to repair Statia’s road network and government would like more than triple that amount, Franco said.
The original consensus was to scrape up the top layer of the roads and put down asphalt, Franco said, but this would have seen the roads decline over a period of two years or more.
Certain discoveries were made as to why the roads were in such poor condition, such as water staying on top of the roads for a substantial amount of time, erosion and other issues, which the government plans to alleviate by installing drainage systems along the new roads, water catchments and other actions.
Government is approaching the road project with a maintenance-free objective in mind. The plan is to have the roads built with greater quality that would not require maintenance for the next 8-10 years.
The cliff protection project was briefly touched on. Acrobat X was contracted to carry out the project to secure the cliff around Historical Fort Oranje. The first covering of the cliff was carried out by helicopter this month, the second phase will commence by December and is expected to be completed in March 2020 provided everything goes according to plan.
A system called the “three circles” has been established whereby key projects are being carried out in Statia, which sees airport protection (green), coastal protection (yellow) and the entrance to Lowertown/Harbuou (blue) addressed. This systematic approach will allow government to tackle different problems that exist.
The road project has seen difficulties over the past months. Franco explained that acquiring additional land to widen the roads required them to negotiate with owners of undivided properties. This very long process is almost complete, but negations to acquire more land is still ongoing.
It was learned that for every tamarind tree that would be removed along a section of road along Korthalsweg due to the road project, five trees would be planted somewhere else. The project should be completed in 2020.
The Cherry Tree Road project is set to be completed in March 2020. The Jeems Road project will commence in September 2019 and is expected to be completed April 2020.
The Cherry Tree Road (pilot project) has seen several delays, the longest being eight to nine months due to a disagreement concerning the cement for the top layer of the road. The funds for the Cherry Tree project came from BZK.
There was a back-and-forth discussion between the supervisor and the contractor of this project over the quality of the materials, which required the government to step in an act as mediator. A new understanding was agreed on, the materials are on their way and work has once again resumed in Cherry Tree.
Franco said that because of the maintenance-free road project, government hopes that the roads would not require maintenance.
Things became contentious at certain points during the meeting’s question-and-answer period between the panel and some of the audience members.
One disagreement concerned whether the drainage system could handle the force of the rainwater that would run down the mountain to the roads and whether a different drainage system could have been used instead. It was explained that the drainage system had been chosen because of the maintenance-free design, which was chosen after a study was carried out.
Another issue was whether the new roads would be undermined, as the drainage systems from older roads to new roads are not connected. Reid explained that government knows of this issue, but they had to start somewhere. It is their intention to complete 40 kilometres of roads that require repair on the island.
There were concerns that the homeowners’ property boundaries were moved in relation to the Jeems Road project. Reid said the road projects were carried out in consultation with the cadaster office. Franco said that if anyone believes the property boundary lines have been moved, they should bring their documents to Government Guesthouse and together they would go to the cadaster office and address the issue.
An audience member encouraged government to use local experts, as in the past foreign companies have proven to be unreliable.
The meeting was scheduled to close at 8:00pm, but was abruptly closed around 7:30pm, even though more persons had indicated that they had more questions.