photo: Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard

THE HAGUE – The hurricane season may have started, but the Coast Guard has not yet recovered from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma. Minister of Defense Ank Bijleveld announces that the material only will be fully in order again this autumn.

Among other things, the IT system was hit hard and has not yet recovered, according to Minister Bijleveld on Wednesday to the House of Representatives. According to the minister, the jetty and lift is also in the process of being fixed, but they will not be ready until the early autumn.

In September 2017, the hurricane caused around one million USD in damages to the Coast Guard. The building was also badly damaged and two speedboats were destroyed.

Money comes from reconstruction fund
The damages sustained by the coastguard are paid with money from the reconstruction fund, Bijleveld said. Another 4.74 million euros from the reconstruction fund will be used to strengthen the border control of St. Maarten.

Coalition party D66 reacts ‘surprised’ to the Minister’s announcement that funds for the coastguard and border control are being taken from the reconstruction fund for St. Maarten. According to parliament member Salima Belhaj, the party assumed that the border control and ‘the role of the coastguard was only an important condition’ for the fund.

According to the Minister, the reconstruction fund of 550 million euros is meant for both damage repair and tighter border control, “Because otherwise you will never get it done.”

Border control
The Coast Guard will sail and fly more often to St. Maarten due to the extra budget. In the coming months, among other things, mobile radars will be purchased and more people will be hired. According to Bijleveld, the St. Maarten police, customs and the Royal Marechaussee also receive extra funds thanks to the reconstruction fund.