PHILIPSBURG–If all goes as planned, manpower and equipment from Curacao’s water and light company Aqualectra should arrive in St. Maarten this week to support local company GEBE with the restoration of utilities to households in hurricane-ravaged St. Maarten.
Prime Minister William Marlin told Members of Parliament (MPs) during a parliamentary meeting on Thursday that GEBE had requested 24 workmen, two supervisors and two mechanics to assist at the electricity plant, plus a number of vehicles, including trucks and bucket trucks, to help with the planting of poles, digging of holes and pulling of overhead lines, among other things.
The equipment is on loan and will be returned to Aqualectra once the assistance to St. Maarten has concluded.
Marlin said GEBE is committed to putting the rest of its infrastructure underground. He said St. Barths, which has its electricity network underground, was up and running with its utilities (light, water, phone and Internet) in about a week after the hurricane struck. He said also that GEBE will revise its 2018 budget to include underground cabling as a priority and as a way forward to ensure that all areas will be underground.
GEBE suffered extensive damage during the passage of Hurricane Irma. Its main building on Walter Nisbeth Road (Pondfill) was extensively damaged and the company is now looking for an alternative location for its main building. The Simpson Bay branch office is currently open serving customers.
In addition, all five buildings at the power plant suffered damage. While the engines did not suffer any damage during the hurricane, some water got into the buildings due to loss of the roofs.
As for water, seven of the company’s water tanks were damaged: the roofs were blown out from four of them and the damage to three was so severe that they have to be either repaired or replaced. The water plants in Cupecoy, Cay Bay and Pointe Blanche suffered no damage and are still intact.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/69739-support-from-aqualectra-for-gebe-likely-this-week