Saba and St. Eustatius celebrated a historic moment together with the inaugural of the Makana ferry service on Sunday, November 28.
Statia Government officials came to Saba on board of the ferry in the morning hours and after the customary speeches, the tokens of appreciation and a prayer, the Public Entities St. Eustatius and Saba signed the Public Service Obligation (PSO) sealing the commitment for the new ferry service which will greatly add to the connectivity of the two islands.
“For the past year-and-a-half, the Public Entities St. Eustatius and Saba worked closely together to make this service a reality. By working together in this joint venture, we made an effort to understand each other’s needs and concerns. We understood that each one’s success depended on the effort of the other. Together we held up the sky so we both could reap the reward,” said Statia Government Commissioner Alida Francis, who came to Saba with a group of 25 invited guests from St. Eustatius.
“This morning, we welcome the Makana ferry to Saba and officially inaugurate a pilot project that will improve connectivity between Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, and eventually to St. Kitts. This ferry project, which is subsidized by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), has been in the pipeline for several months. Now that we are in a position to finally start this new service will enhance our affordable travel possibilities between our sister islands, while providing a much-needed boost to our tourism product and our economy,” said Saba Commissioner of Infrastructure, Harbor Affairs and Tourism Bruce Zagers in his speech.
Both Zagers and Francis said that through the new ferry service, Saba and St. Eustatius were building a solid foundation for future cooperation. “This project is a good example of how our islands can work together. Too often we miss the opportunities where we can collaborate to achieve great results like this ferry project. It is wonderful to see such a large Statia delegation to join us in making this historic project official,” said Zagers.
“The pandemic has taught us that while we may be different, we do have much more in common and that we do need each other. We can picture the interaction among our peoples, the exchange of cultures, the increasing in inter-island sporting activities, Statians escaping to Saba for long weekends and vice versa. Most importantly, we are granted the opportunity to visit family and friends at an affordable rate,” said Francis. She added that the collaboration between the two islands should also include tackling the challenge we both face in securing reliable, affordable and sustainable airlift.
“This has been a collaborative process between Saba and St. Eustatius,” said Saba’s Director of Tourism Malinda Hassell, who acted as the MC for the event. She noted that having a stable and affordable ferry service like the Makana also opened more promotional opportunities for tourism.
Zagers praised the joint working group for its commitment to see the ferry project through. “To the many persons and stakeholders from Saba, St. Eustatius and the Netherlands who have been involved throughout the entire process, the realization of this much-needed service is a result of your efforts and commitment. We are very thankful.”
Samuel “Blues” Connor of Blues and Blues, the company from Anguilla that operates the Makana, has been coming to Saba with his cargo vessels Mutty’s Pride and Captain Chrissy for more than two decades, Commissioner Zagers pointed out. “It was only two years ago that Blues received a Saba Day award, acknowledging his commitment to Saba. Knowing the relationship and commitment that we have experienced over the years with this operator, we can feel confident that this new ferry service will be a success,” said Zagers.
“It is a pleasure to be here once again with my new product. I am part of Saba and St. Eustatius and together, we will make this a success,” said Connor, who praised his family that works at his company for making the new ferry service happen.
The Makana crew and Government Commissioner Francis received a token of appreciation during the inaugural ceremony. After the signing of the PSO agreement by Saba Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Statia Government Commissioner Francis and Connor of Blues and Blues, and a blessing of the vessel by Pastor Mervin Alexander, the Makana made two trips around Saba, first with invited guests and then with the general public. The Makana left in the afternoon for St. Eustatius.