Dutch government to run ‘lawless’ Caribbean isle

Administration of the Caribbean island of Sint Eustatius, with just over 3,000 residents and situated in the Leeward Islands chain east of Puerto Rico, has been a source of concern to the Dutch government for some time. (luchtfoto)
Updated 05 February 2018

Dutch government to run ‘lawless’ Caribbean isle

THE HAGUE: The Dutch government said Monday it will take over the running of one of its Caribbean island municipalities, denouncing “physical neglect” and “lawlessness” on Sint Eustatius.
The island’s ruling council will be immediately dissolved with Dutch Interior Minister Raymond Knops traveling there this week to explain the decision to residents.
“The current administrative situation is one of lawlessness and financial mismanagement,” the interior ministry said.
“Discrimination, intimidation, threats and insults and personal enrichment flourish at the expense of the people of Sint Eustatius,” a statement issued in The Hague said.
Mismanagement “has had a serious effect on the running of the island and the daily lives of the population of Sint Eustatius,” the ministry said, adding “the island has been physically neglected.”
New polls to elect an island council will be held once Sint Eustatius is able to properly run itself.
Administration of the tiny island municipality with just over 3,000 residents, situated in the Leeward Islands chain east of Puerto Rico “has been a source of concern for a while,” the statement said.
“Previous measures to improve the situation have failed,” it added, pointing to a report by a two-person commission set up in May to investigate.
The commission recommended an intervention by the Dutch government, a move supported by the Dutch State Council — The Netherlands’ highest court which also advises the government on state matters.
But the commission also slapped the Dutch government, saying it had allowed relations to deteriorate, while projects to improve roads, water supply, homes and waste disposal had dragged.
The move comes less than a month before the Dutch part of the nearby island of Saint Martin is to hold new elections after a row with The Netherlands over aid in the wake of Hurricane Irma forced a previous premier to resign.
Irma barrelled through the eastern Caribbean destroying swathes of Sint Maarten, as it is called in Dutch, as well as Sint Eustatius, Bonaire and Saba.
Sint Eustatius, together with islands of Bonaire and Saba form “special municipalities” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands which is responsible for its public administration.


Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

Updated 50 min 46 sec ago

Philippine trash trawlers earn little from virus-boosted surge in plastics

MANILA: Virgilio Estuesta has picked through trash in the Philippines’ biggest city for four decades, and is noticing an unusually large amount of plastics during his daily trawl of about 15 km (9.3 miles).
Tough curbs re-imposed to combat a surge in daily coronavirus infections are squeezing income for the 60-year-old, as many of the junkyards and businesses in Manila that buy his recyclables have been closed since March.
Plastic items, such as bottles and containers, dominate the contents of the rickety wooden cart Estuesta pushes through the deserted streets, far more than metals and cardboard, yet the money they bring in is not enough to get by.
“It’s been really hard for us, it’s been difficult looking for recyclables that sell high,” he said.
“Recently we’ve been seeing a lot more plastics, but the problem is they don’t really sell high.”
Environmentalists say the Philippines is battling one of the world’s biggest problems stemming from single-use plastics, and ranks among the biggest contributors to plastic pollution of the oceans. It has no reliable data for its plastics consumption.
Greenpeace campaigner Marian Ledesma said consumers and businesses are now using yet more single-use plastics, in a bid to ward off virus infections.
“The pandemic has really increased plastic pollution,” she added. “Just because there’s a lot more people using disposables now, due to misconceptions and fears around transmitting the virus.”
Since March 16, Manila has experienced lockdowns of varying levels of severity, in some of the world’s longest and tightest measures to curb the spread of the virus.
They are taking a toll on Estuesta, who hopes to start earning soon.
“When you go out, the police will reprimand you,” he said. “I was stuck at home and had to rely on government aid, which was not enough. I had to resort to borrowing money from people.”