Alida Francis: ‘Statia still standing’

Alida Francis: ‘Statia still standing’

Francis noted that 2021 has been a turbulent year, but with many positive elements. Photo: Government of St. Eustatius

ORANJESTAD- Government Commissioner Alida Francis on New Year’s Eve provided a long, but optimistic message to the population on St. Eustatius. The Commissioner noted that while 2021 was by no means an easy year, the island was still standing. 

“We have come to the end of a long and tumultuous year, a year that so many of us thought would never end as we navigated the raging and dangerous waters of COVID-19. But as the strong, determined and proud people that we are, we can hold our heads up high and state with utmost confidence that while the pandemic stretched and bent us, it certainly did not break us. Yes, my people, thanks to you, Statia is still standing!

As TS Elliott said: “To make an end is to make a beginning.” Therefore, as the old year ends and the new year begins, we welcome 2022 with new commitments and beginnings, new resolutions and goals, new expectations of ourselves and the aspirations we have in common.

I’m also of the firm conviction that the beginning of every year holds a lot of positivity, good energy, and plenty of hope. It is a bridge to new things, a pathway to learning, living, digging deep within, and discovering the strength and abilities to do things you never thought you could do and push yourself to heights you never thought you reach.

Importantly, it is a route to doing something. Something wondrous, something amazing, something glorious, something good, something for yourself, your family, your country. It is a link to necessary, serious, and great things. And in Statia, we know we can do it.

Due to latest Covid-19 developments we are off to a bumpy start to the New Year with 35 active cases. Our hearts go out to every one of them, their families and loved ones and everyone who is affected because of their infection.

The source of the outbreak is unknown, which is worrying. For the first time since the start of the pandemic we are facing community spread. Therefore, for the coming two weeks the Public Entity has escalated the measures to level 5, which outlines measures to help curb the spread of virus. Our success depends on everyone taking responsibility by respecting the measures that are in place until January 14th, 2022. In other words, your success is our success.

As I indicated earlier, 2021 was a rather difficult year, but as true optimists, we saw opportunity in the challenges we faced and we grabbed it. Therefore, even as the pandemic cast a pall over us, we had lots of progress to celebrate, including important infrastructural projects such as the airport and roads, funded by the national government.  

The local government has started the process of lighting public spaces, renovating and modernising government offices. We introduced Microsoft 365 and Statia Academy offering 500 courses and trainings for civil servants.

We improved the financial management processes and reporting, established a project management bureau, cleaned up illegal dumpsites, removed wrecks, drilled wells in support of farmers and built infiltration ponds. And that is just the beginning.

With your support we completed the 11th EDF underground cabling and accessories, resulting in increased stability of the electricity grid. This is why STUCO have been able to maintain the flow of electricity even during heavy rains and thunderstorms. Also, due to improvements in the water production, transport and storage capacity, STUCO has for the first time in five years, been able to supply water throughout the year without having to ration during periods of droughts or major repairs at the water plant or the water distribution system. With achievements such as these while the pandemic was wreaking havoc around the world, all Statia should take a bow!

In telecommunications, EUTEL NV provided increased bandwidth, worked with innovative partners to provide one touch communication, secured an increase in the EZK COVID discount package from $25 to $35, continued the upgrade of its outside plant network and 50 new channels were added to EU-TV, . expanded our building which will be officially launched 2022, constructed a new Internet Café that will be launched in 2022. And it won’t stop there as you will see even further progress in 2022.

Other equally important projects in the social domain were executed on behalf of, and in collaboration with, the Public Entity St. Eustatius, some of which will continue in 2022 and beyond. We are proud of the successes such as Golden Opportunity, Safe House, Phase Two Assisted Living Complex, covering of Cruyff Court, the 12+ Programme, signing of the LOI to build central housing for out-of-school programmes (BES(t) 4Kids), training new swimming instructors, a ten per cent rise in the minimum wage, signing of the agreement with Community Centre to improve facilities, the cooperation agreement with Dykers Foundation to elevate basketball, and the new outdoor fitness facility in Wilhelmina Park.

In the field of transport, we opened and transferred a new FDR airport passenger building and control tower, completed airport security training for personnel, completed aviation safety training for airport stakeholders, improved harbour facilities (shore power and water facilities), updated and implemented airport and harbour security ordinances and, after three decades, we finally welcomed the Makana ferry service.

Across the island, from Concordia to Golden Rock, from Zealandia to White Hall, from Lower Town to Oranjestad, the signs of progress are glaring”, according to Francis. 

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