Telecom in Saba and Statia to be more stable during crises

Telecommu­nication in St. Eustatius and Saba will become more reli­able in crisis situations with the placing of a satellite in­stallation for contact with the outside world in case a large natural disaster hits the Wind­ward Islands.

Residents of St. Eustatius and Saba can rest assured that a means of communication will remain operational after a natural disaster and that a situation such as the one after Hurricane Irma, when the islands were affected by the damaged communication systems in St. Maarten, will be avoided.

Dutch Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapper­haus informed the Second Chamber of the Dutch Par­liament on Tuesday about the measures he is putting in place to improve the availabil­ity of crisis communication services.

St. Eustatius and Saba need back-up telecommunications facilities on the islands in case all communication possibili­ties via sea cables and micro­wave connections are cut off by calamities, stated Grapper­haus. This is especially impor­tant because the islands are located in the hurricane belt.

Grapperhaus announced that the Dutch Telecom Agency of the Ministry of Economic Affairs will fi­nance a satellite installation for the local companies that hold the telecommunication infrastructure, which will be hooked up directly to the existing installations This solution is currently being re­alised.

The concession holders that come into consideration are the local telecom operators Satel of Saba and Eutel of St. Eustatius, as well as service provider C3 for the trunking network that is used by emer­gency services.

The satellite installation is not meant for general use by the public. “It is an acute emergency provision for es­sential communication — for example, by the Island Gov­ernor — from the island to the outside world,” stated Grapperhaus, adding that ad­ditional structural solutions were being looked at.

The telecom concession holders on the islands and the Ministry of Justice and Secu­rity, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations are discussing ways to increase the use and effec­tiveness of available means of communication during disas­ters and crisis situations. Grapperhaus also pledged to assess whether linking the C3 network with the sea cable could contribute to connec­tions stability. This assessment will lake place together with the Ministries of Economic Affairs and of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations. The radio-telephone equipment for the Caribbean Nether­lands Police Rate KPCN and the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department has been realised.

The measures especially serve to improve connections between emergency person­nel and between the islands as well as with the outside world, explained Grapperhaus. The improvements will decrease St. Eustatius’ and Saba’s de­pendence on St. Maarten. Grapperhaus promised to keep investing to ensure that the Caribbean Netherlands in the near future has “robust connections that also work under difficult circumstanc­es.”

He was happy to note that the Saba Government has updated its disaster and crisis plans. St. Eustatius is in the process of revising its crisis management organisation, after which the disaster and crisis plan will be updated.

The Daily Herald.

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