Director-General Mobility of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) Kees van der Burg visited Saba from Wednesday, January 15 to Friday, January 17, together with a delegation of his ministry and the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK).
The visit of Van der Burg and his delegation started at the Juancho Yrausquin Airport where Commissioner Bruce Zagers and Airport Manager Maegan Hassell provided an explanation of the completed airport renovation project, which was largely financed through the Ministry of I&W. They toured the building and inspected the resurfaced runway.
The delegation made a next stop at the cistern project and the water pipeline system in the Windwardside as a part of which a filling station will be opened in the near future. The delegation stopped to look at the new drinking water bottling plant at St. John’s which is under construction and should be ready before this summer. Commissioner Zagers gave an explanation at the landfill location about the recycling facility and the processing of recyclables. The air-burner was viewed. Many infrastructure-related projects, including water and waste management, on Saba are funded through the Ministry of I&W.
The Ministry is also involved in the funding of the multi-million project to construct a new Saba harbor. Initially, the plans focused on the location of the existing harbor at Fort Bay. The plans have now shifted to the Black Rocks area where the conditions are more favorable to construct a new harbor.
On Thursday morning, Harbor Project manager Ton van der Plas gave a presentation to Van der Burg and his delegation, with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioner Zagers and Island Secretary Tim Muller in attendance. A survey and feasibility study of the alternative location were completed and approved in the later part of 2019. A soil investigation and design work need to be done before the project can go to tendering.
After the meeting with the Executive Council, the delegation, accompanied by Commissioner Zagers and Harbor Master Travis Johnson visited both the Fort Bay harbor and the location of the proposed new harbor in the Black Rocks area. In the afternoon, the delegation met with the Island Council. The delegation climbed Mt. Scenery later that afternoon. They left for St. Eustatius on Friday morning.
This was the first visit of Van der Burg, who holds the Caribbean Netherlands portfolio at the Ministry of I&W, to Saba since his appointment as Director-General of the I&W Ministry on September 1, 2019. He said he found it important to visit Saba soon after his appointment.
“It is important to speak with the people here and to see things with my own eyes. It also makes sense considering that in the coming period some important decisions will be taken by the Dutch Government pertaining to the Caribbean Netherlands,” Van der Burg said, who noted that every island is different and that this required an individual approach.
Van der Burg said that he was struck by “enormous progress” that has been made on Saba by the people. “In the open talks that I had with the Executive Council and the Island Council, several concerns were expressed, which I will take back to the Netherlands.” He said that he would be returning periodically to Saba. About his climb to the top of Mt. Scenery and the island in general, he said: “It is a jewel in the Dutch Kingdom. An island of true beauty and deserving of its name, the Unspoiled Queen.”
Other persons in the delegation were Deputy Director Water of the Ministry of I&W Marjan van Giezen, Caribbean Netherlands Coordinator Anneke Tjalma of I&W Ministry and Director Kingdom Relations of the BZK Ministry Dirk-Jan Bonnet.