Sunday , February 5 2023

Better, cheaper connectivity between islands still far off

The Dutch government is still working on a proposal to improve the connectivity between the Dutch Caribbean islands and to, where possible, lower the tariffs for residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. A concrete solution is not in sight, which is bad news for residents who continue to pay high prices.

Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, today, Tuesday provided answers to written questions submitted by Members of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament Attje Kuiken of the Labour Party PvdA and André Bosman of the liberal democrats VVD early February this year.

Kuiken and Bosman stated their “chagrin” over the fact that it is taking years to arrange affordable prices for Caribbean Netherlands residents to travel between the islands and to improve the connections.

Air ticket prices between Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are high, and travelling is extremely time-consuming. Prices to fly between the three Windward Islands are very high as well. The Members of Parliament (MPs) pointed out the adverse social and economic consequences for the islands’ residents.

Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen, also on behalf of her colleague Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops, that a proposal was being worked on, in consultation with the Caribbean Netherlands, to “improve the connectivity within the Kingdom and to lower the transport tariffs for island resident, where possible.”

The type of travel will be specifically included in this proposal, of which Van Nieuwenhuizen could not say when the measures to improve the connectivity and to lower the tariffs would go into effect.

The Minister said that in first instance, the proposal will have to drafted with the input of the countries within the Kingdom and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour SZW and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK.

The process includes an assessment on the legal, financial and logistical feasibility. Also, the timeframe in which the proposal could be implemented needs to be looked at. “That is why we can’t indicate at this stage when the measures will be taken,” Van Nieuwenhuizen stated.

The Expert Group Connectivity had recommended to partially compensate a number of tickets for necessary travel of residents of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The public entities St. Eustatius and Saba have submitted specific proposals to improve the connectivity and to lower the tariffs.

The recommendations and findings of the Expert Group and the public entities will be included in the process to draft a proposal. The possibilities that ferry connections offer within the Caribbean Netherlands will be further worked out.

The Daily Herald

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