Saba Business Association (SBA) slammed the island government’s decision to abruptly announce the closure of the harbour’s roll-on, roll-off cargo ramp for repairs in a letter to the Executive Council on Tuesday afternoon.
SBA’s letter – signed by SBA president and owner of shipping company Island Communication Services (ICS) Alida Heilbron – comes mere hours after government announced in a Facebook post that the harbour’s only cargo ramp will be closed for repairs from November 4 to 18. This means that no sea freight can enter the island during that time.
Although the island government has argued that the ramp is deteriorating and causing damage to cargo vessels, the association has sharply criticised the repair work coming at short notice, characterising it as “bad planning”.
“None of the cargo handlers on the island was given notice until this Facebook post today [Tuesday – Ed.]: only one week before the harbour closes,” said the association in the letter. “Supermarkets and other businesses have to plan for situations like this ahead of time, and one week’s notice period makes this practically impossible.”
This decision is not only at short notice, but at the busiest time of the year for Saba’s economy – November and December. According to SBA, there is likely to be an increase in incoming cargo this year, because air travel has been restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There are potential delays to the repair works to consider, which may have severe effects for not only businesses, but also ordinary residents, said SBA. “All medicines for the pharmacy, which are already ordered, are on route, are sensitive to temperature and cannot be stored in St. Maarten indefinitely, should the proposed work be delayed.”
SBA concluded the letter by urging government to postpone the ramp’s repairs until a later date, “preferably in January”.
The Daily Herald.