THE BOTTOM/ORANJESTAD- The new Makana ferry service for the BES islands is now expected to make a cautious start as of November 28.
The ferry service, which is subsidized with 2 million euros from The Hague, will maintain a connection between St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. St. Kitts will be added at a later stage. The inauguration and presentation of the new service will take place on Sunday 28 November on both St. Eustatius and Saba.
The actual operation will start on December 1st with a tentative schedule in connection to Saba Day. The real schedule should start from December 5 onwards. Trips for the ferry service can initially be booked through travel agents. The online booking platform will be launched later in December.
The new ferry service will be operated under a public-private maritime connectivity agreement. The money for the ferry service comes from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) in the Netherlands. The new ferry connection should have started on 1 November. However, several RCN services, including Customs and the Kmar, were not yet ready to provide services to ferry and its passengers from that date.
Although Saba seems to be positive about the new ferry service, the island council of St. Eustatius is quite critical. In the opinion of local parliament, many questions remain about the conditions under which the Public Service Contract was awarded. There are also questions about the durability of the project and there is fear that the Ferry project is used as an excuse not to work on the dire airlift situation of especially St. Eustatius.