Thursday , December 7 2023

Bureaucracy of Rijksgebouwendienst decried

The Daily Herald writes that Governor Johnson addressed several questions falling under his portfolio during Monday’s public Island Council meeting. The first was the enforcement challenge in curtailing the sale of alcohol to minors. He blasted the slow and bureaucratic renovations of the police station in The Bottom saying that Rijksgebouwendienst, the institution tasked with such projects “measures sixteen times, writes ten reports and takes two years to make a decision. For example when renovating the police cells – only three cells – they came to the island six times to measure them with six people.” He joked about measurement units possibly changing. The governor announced that only in January will a renovation project be ready to go for local contractor bids. Because of the poor performance on a prior cell renovation, one of the local subcontractors has already been eliminated. In the meantime detained suspects are being held in substandard cells. The governor remarked that the high standards for the contract may actually eliminate some of the local subcontractor bids, prolonging the situation. Governor Johnson did not venture to guess how long it would take to complete the work once it actually starts. He shared knowledge about a similarly botched project in Bonaire, where in the middle of the renovations the institution decided to have the building earthquake-proofed and the project had to recommence. The governor warned that working with this Rijksgebouwendienst means that “goalposts keep changing.”

With regards to council member Rolando Wilson’s question about Saban youth failing to join the Dutch army forces, Governor Johnson said that a recruitment session did take place over the summer during the visit of the Dutch navy to Saba. He said the major hurdle is the Dutchlanguage abilities of our English-speaking youth. Answering several questions posed about the insufficient notary services and the executive’s role in securing such, the governor said this had been discussed with the Ministry of Safety and Justice for the past two years. This week the governor is having a meeting with a ministry liaison on this issue. He is optimistic, expecting that the Justice Ministry of St. Maarten will give approval for notary service providers there to work on Saba. In addition to recognition, the challenge lays in actually securing notary providers willing to come and serve the small community despite the minimal financial incentives to do so. This lack of financial incentives should not detract from the Dutch Ministry’s responsibility to ensure that services are provided on the island. The financial burden should not fall on residents by forcing them to travel abroad for every document. The situation has left many on Saba with questionable and undivided property titles.

Islands present at Kingdom congress
Windward Islands artists exhibit at Zwolle museum