photo: Hazel Durand

The BOTTOM – Saba will receive 2 million euro from the Dutch Government for reconstruction post Hurricanes Irma and Maria, State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops announced on Wednesday.

Already on Saba, the local government held several meetings executing the rebuilding of homes, confirming contracts especially done by local contractors. “Local contractors are best as they are better educated of the type of buildings to be constructed being in a Hurricane zone”, said Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.

First visit
Knops has been in office for 5 weeks now and started his introductory visit on Monday in St. Maarten and continued on to Saba on Tuesday. The purpose of this travel is for the first-hand experience of the reconstruction phase on the islands along with meeting local governments.

As customary, state secretaries along with the delegation get to know the local Saban community during various meetings. Knops complimenting the island government for their ‘great leadership skills and unity with the citizens working together to speed up the recovery process’.

“Saba is an example of good governance in the Caribbean. Being a small scale government, the possibility to deliver regardless of limited budgets and create a sense of normality to the people was well acknowledged”, according to Knops. “This proves to implement a government agreement for self-governance allowing an increase in funding. This proposal has already been introduced into parliament receiving a positive reaction.”

Island Governor Jonathan Johnson. (r) and State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops (l)

It is also expressed that strong bonding within communication from the Netherlands to the Dutch islands is of high priority, allowing quicker approvals of necessities on the islands such as health care.

“Success will be achieved by coordinating a smooth contact within the different governmental departments along with a closer relationship both face-to-face and electronically”, said Knops. ”

Economic hardship
Even though there were minimum damages done to Saba’s natural beauty, the island continues to face economic hardships due to St. Maarten’s current state.

Tourism is one of this island’s sources of revenue and because of the decrease in tourist’s visits; the business community persists to suffer. Knops has acknowledged this problem and ensured that mediums for tourist entrances such as the harbor are back in order as this can miss opportunities.

Knops will join their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, who will be attending the 42nd-anniversary celebration of Saba Day this Friday.