Island, Executive Council discuss four main themes during retreat
The Government has been working over the last years on numerous developments, contributing to the well-being of the Saba people. Therefore, the Executive and Island Council recently organized a retreat. The meeting was to inform, discuss, and allow the Island Council Members to reflect on the developments and the priorities set in four theme areas.
The four themes were: 1. infrastructure, 2. the social domain, 3. policies, projects, and legislation, and 4. public service. During the retreat at Queen’s Garden Hotel, the Executive Council provided an update on the various topics, whereby there was ample opportunity for in-depth discussions and brainstorming with the Island Council members. Many of the topics they will discuss again in a public Island Council meeting slated for late May. In this article, an update on the construction of a new harbor and water bottling plant, the continued upgrading of waste management, and the concept of wastewater treatment.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great delay in the construction of a new harbor. This affected the geotechnical surveys, which now have been completed. Based on the results of the surveys, significant work has been done on model testing and reference designs. The model tests show that at the new location at Black Rocks, the impact of the waves on the new breakwater is five times lower than at Fort Bay Harbor. The environmental impact study, which is important for the building permit to be issued by the Dutch Government, is also almost complete. The trials for the coral relocation are complete. The corals are monitored regularly in two different locations to see which environment is most suitable for their growth. It is still intended to start the bidding process for the new harbor this year so that construction can start during the first quarter of 2022. The US-based company ATM is drafting the marina design. The facilities will be outfitted with industry standards so the harbor can attract high-end traffic. Discussions are ongoing with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) and the Ministry of Finance for additional funding so that a cargo pier and facility can be tendered during this project.
In the meantime, the construction of a new road to connect to the new harbor continues. Within a month, the excavation works should be completed. The Public Works Department will build the retaining and safety walls for this phase of the road. The road will not be paved until the harbor project nears completion. The second phase of the road is slated to be tendered locally soon. The engineering for the utilities (electric, data, and water) is ongoing, and these will be in place before the harbor project starts.
The Island Council asked for further improvements at the waste management facility. The Members asked Commissioner Bruce Zagers to continue to upgrade the overall quality of waste management, keep working on reducing the output of smoke, and improve the management and personnel skills at the waste management facility.
The Executive Council explained during the retreat that many improvements have been made in the area of waste management with the training of personnel, better separation of garbage. All plastics are now removed. This has reduced the burning of non-recyclable waste from 4 to 5 times per week to once a week and a larger number of recyclables having to be exported. A scale has been installed at the waste management facility to gather statistics about the waste collected.
Additionally, the Island Council has requested the Executive branch to research the possibility of incorporating a compostable material project to mitigate the high volume of materials shipped out. The efficiency of separation of the garbage has shown that the human capacity is not the main challenge for sustainability but rather the high cost to have the materials removed from the island. The Executive Council is working on securing additional funds to offset the high shipping cost.
Areas related to the collection of garbage are still being refined, and a campaign to further educate the community on reducing waste overall by recycling and reusing.
The water bottling plant project was also greatly affected by the pandemic. The bottling plant is in the building, and the bottles are here too. An important component for the project is an electric switchboard, which has been built in the Netherlands and will arrive shortly. The remaining infrastructure works at the facility are being worked on, after which the manufacturer of the bottling plant will finish the installation and commission the plant.
Sewage and Wastewater
The Island Council indicated during the retreat that it wanted to see more progress in the area of sewage and wastewater treatment. A sewage processing plant is part of phase II social housing complex. The possibility of connecting or expanding to other areas will be looked into.