Category Archives: Government

Bonaire Unites to Assist and Aid Sister Islands Sint Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius

Bonaire unites together to raise funds for the hurricane-ravaged Windward Islands of the Dutch Caribbean.

There are six islands in the Caribbean which are part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands, and although separated by geography, as well as governmental entities, the six islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao (the ABC islands in the southern Caribbean) and Sint Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius (the Windward Islands, or SSS islands, located at the northern end of the Caribbean archipelago), are inextricably linked–by family, friends, commercial enterprise, and culture.

Hurricane Irma began her rampage through the Caribbean.

It was only one week ago today that Hurricane Irma began her rampage with direct hits as a Category Five hurricane. She first took aim at tiny Barbuda, population 1400, and then swung in with a one-two punch on the dual-country territory of Sint Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French) as the eye wall passed twice over the island.

The Windward Islands, known locally as Isla Ariba (literally, the islands above, in Papiamentu), are accustomed to tropical storms and hurricanes.  But no one ever imagined what Irma had in store for them as she tore across the tiny island with eye wall sustained winds of 185 miles per hour/297 kilometers per hour and gusts well above that.

Utter devastation is seen everywhere.

After all was said and done, it was with shock that island residents took stock of their circumstances. On Sint Maarten/St. Martin, the airport, seaport, hospital, electric and water plants, cell towers and transmitting equipment, and 95% of all buildings were either destroyed or damaged to the point of total loss. In 12 hours, the way of life and the livelihoods of these islanders were destroyed.

With 95% of infrastructure destroyed or damaged, it’s time to send in the Dutch Marines.

The Dutch Marines bring immediate aid to hurricane-ravaged Sint Maarten.

Communications were down. Power was gone. Water was gone. Homes were destroyed. There was no sanitation. There was not even a way for them to put out the call for help. Our Dutch Marines went into action.

They train for disaster management semi-annually on each island in the Dutch Caribbean, so that, in just such a case as this, they already have a familiarity with the island.

Our Dutch Marines were able to make a beach landing, and get in immediate aid and a water-maker, as well as heavy equipment to clear the runway. Since that time, additional marines, police, and aid workers have been dispatched to help out our sister island. Military ships are plying the waters back and forth between Curacao and Sint Maarten, as well as Saba and St. Eustatius, bringing water, food, medical supplies, equipment, and evacuating those needing medical attention. The images and videos that are being posted on social media, as Internet becomes available, are heart-wrenching. Even Royal Caribbean Cruise Line re-arranged schedules, and sent four cruise ships filled with supplies to islands requiring relief, including Sint Maarten. Then, with the previously laden ships empty, they assisted with evacuations from the afflicted islands.

BES sister islands of Saba and St. Eustatius also suffered through the storm, but did not take a direct hit with the eye wall passing over them. Although each island did sustain structural damage, it was much less than the catastrophic damage sustained on Sint Maarten/St. Martin. Both Saba and St. Eustatius are already on the road to recovery.

King Willem-Alexander visits the Windward Islands.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander arrives to see the Windward Islands after the passage of Hurricane Irma.

On Sunday, our King Willem-Alexander arrived in Curacao from the European Netherlands. On Monday, he visited Sint Maarten and today he visited both Saba and St. Eustatius. King Willem-Alexander said this after his visit to Sint Maarten, as he met with reporters:

“I’ve never experienced anything like this before and I’ve seen a lot of natural disasters in my life. I’ve seen a lot of war zones in my life. but I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s been very useful to see for myself what terrible damage this storm has done and in this way to also show the population of Sint Maarten and the governor and prime minister that we stand together here as a kingdom and that we will solve this together.” 

— King Willem-Alexander, on the Dutch national network NOS

Boneiru pa Isla Ariba (Bonaire For the Windward Islands).

Bonaire has united to assist our sister islands, under the umbrella of Boneiru pa Islariba (Bonaire For the Windward Islands). This citizens’ initiative is in collaboration with the Red Cross Bonaire, the Island Government, and the NGO Platform Bonaire.

Additionally:

  • Bonaire has dispatched extra police officers and firefighters to the Windward Islands to offer support.
  • Bonaire, as well as Aruba, has already received patients requiring medical treatment from Sint Maarten’s damaged hospital.
  • There have been numerous collection points for donations of clothing, non-perishable foods, and other basic necessary needs. Our Red Cross, the Krus Korá, has just asked that donations of clothing be stopped for now. The time will come when that will be necessary, but right now, the people of the Windward Islands, and especially Sint Maarten, need food, water, shelter, and medical supplies, and there is not enough room to transport clothing.
  • An Emergency Air Bridge has been established between Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire.  In the case of a medical emergency on either Saba or St. Eustatius, Bonaire will send its Air Ambulance to attend to the patient.  Emergency patients from Saba will be brought to St. Eustatius via helicopter, and from there routed to Bonaire’s hospital via the Air Ambulance.

Police and firemen are dispatched from Bonaire to the Windward Islands.

You can help with your presence at fund-raising events or with a monetary donation.

There are two fund-raising events being held this coming weekend. If you are vacationing on Bonaire, please consider attending one of these to help raise funds.

Additional opportunities exist for helping out via Bonaire For the Windward Islands. Visit the Facebook page for more details.

If you’d like to help Bonaire help our sister islands, financial support can be donated via the Red Cross Bonaire. No amount is too small.  Bank transfers can be made to the account of:

Red Cross Bonaire
P.O. Box 90
Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (Bonaire)
Account #41385602
Swiftcode (BIC):  MCBKBQBN
Please add a note that it is “Ayuda pa Isla Ariba“, help for the Windward Islands.

Bonaire’s collective heart goes out to all affected by Hurricane Irma.

And while we mourn the damage to our beautiful Isla Ariba sister islands, our collective heart goes out to all those who were in the subsequent path of Hurricane Irma–Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, and, of course, the entire state of Florida and the fellow-islanders in the hard-hit Florida Keys. We send our thoughts and prayers that they recover quickly.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter, NOS Dutch National Network, Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland, Boneiru pa Isla Ariba)


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Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

 

Bonaire’s Firefighting Instructors Train in a Simulated Airplane Fire

Bonaire’s instructor firefighters train for emergencies at Flamingo Airport.

When arriving for vacation, one doesn’t want to think about disasters, but, unfortunately, they can strike any time, anywhere.  It’s comforting to know Bonaire’s firefighters are ready to tackle an emergency fire at the island’s Flamingo Airport.

In-service training was received specifically for airplane fires.

On Wednesday April 12th, the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Department (Brandweerkorps Caribisch Nederland, hereafter referred to as BKCN) held an airplane firefighting training simulated exercise on the grounds of the airport. BKCN is not only responsible for regular firefighting duties, but also for airplane firefighting on all three of the BES Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba). The training exercise was an in-service training in the field of airplane firefighting and was intended for all BKCN instructors. The instructors therefore are able to give other colleagues within the department in-service training.

The simulation was realistic with two different types of “airplanes.”

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) applies very strict rules and requirements which the fire department must observe. It was a realistic training exercise with fire and smoke in an airplane during evening hours. These exercises took place on the grounds of BIA where a training object has been constructed from containers and other materials to imitate the fuselage of an airplane. There are two different mock-up cabins on the inside; one of a smaller airplane with one aisle and one of a larger airplane with two aisles, so as to realistically train in the typical types of aircraft landing on Bonaire. In case of an airplane fire it is important for the fire department to respond and reach the fire within three minutes and to create a survivable situation as soon as possible in order to save as many lives as possible.

Four shift leaders and three officers of service from Bonaire, and 1 shift leader and 2 firemen from St. Eustatius participated in this physically demanding training exercise. A total of 10 participants and 3 fire engines were deployed. The training exercise was organized by BKCN instructor Ab Hoek and Sergeant Major Frank Koenders, airplane firefighting instructor of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, in collaboration with the firefighting training institute BOGO. The airplane firefighting training exercise for instructors lasted 9 days, of which one day was devoted to theory and the remaining days were practical days.

During the simulation, emphasis was also placed on cooperation with other services, such as red cross, ambulance, police and the KMar.

Bonaire’s firefighters perform many life-saving duties for the community.

Bonaire’s firefighters perform many life-saving duties.  View the video (also simulated) of our firefighters removing a traffic accident victim from an automobile.


(Source:  RCN)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing on The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


Bonaire Sees a Growth in Population, 2011-2015

Population growth on Bonaire is mainly due to immigration.

Bonaire Sees a Small Population Growth in 2016Between January 2011 and January 2016, the population of Bonaire increased by more than 20% to 19,400 residents. This was largely attributable to immigration. In the period between January 2011 and December 2015, 7,000 immigrants arrived on Bonaire while 4,000 emigrants left. The largest influx was from the European Netherlands, Curaçao and the United States, according to figures recently released by Statistics Netherlands (CBS).

Migration balance on Bonaire in recent years.

Migration Balance on Bonaire, 2011-2015

The 3,000 immigrants from the European Netherlands who settled on the island between 2011 and 2015 formed the largest group. In the same period, 1,600 residents of Curaçao, Aruba and St Maarten moved to Bonaire; nearly 80 percent were from Curaçao.

Among the group who left the island in the same period, over 2,000 moved to the European Netherlands and around 1,100 to Curaçao, Aruba or St Maarten.

Population growth on Bonaire in recent years.

Population growth on Bonaire, 2011-2015

Many moves to the Caribbean Netherlands.

Between January 2011 and December 2015, more people settled in the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius) than left. Net migration stood at 2,700 for all three islands.

In the same period, around 10,000 people moved to one of the three islands while slightly over 7,000 people left the islands. The Caribbean Netherlands is especially popular among residents of the European Netherlands, Central and South America, Curaçao, the USA, and Canada.

(Source:  Central Bureau of Statistics)

 

 

The Silver Quality Coast Award is Bestowed Upon Bonaire

Bonaire has just been awarded another major accolade, the Silver Quality Coast Award.

Recently, The Netherlands Minister of Economic Affairs, Mr. Henk Kamp, awarded Bonaire with the Silver Quality Coast Award, presented to the island’s Director of Tourism, Mr. Maurice Adriaens, during a recent Bonaire Economic Conference.

About the Silver Quality Coast Award.

silver_medal_verticalThe Silver Quality Coast Award is an award developed by the Coastal and Marine Union (EUCC). This is a part of the “Green Deal” for sustainable tourism that was initiated in November, 2014 and runs through December, 2016. The aim of this initiative is to promote the sustainability of destinations, such as Bonaire.

This must be achieved by developing a joint vision on the manner in which the sustainability of the destination, along with the development of processes and resources, are considered. These criteria provide a measurement as to the sustainability of the destination.

How Did Bonaire Qualify for the Silver Quality Coast Award?

In recent weeks, Bonaire hosted  personnel who visited to make their initial assessment as to whether Bonaire is a green destination. Various Bonaire stakeholders were interviewed as well. After successfully completing the assessment, Bonaire was awarded the Silver Award.

Gold is the New Goal.

Having attained Silver status, Bonaire’s tourism entity, Tourism Corporation Bonaire, now has plans to jointly work together with the island’s private sector tourism providers to make improvements, which need to take place within one year in order to acquire a higher ranking for the next Bonaire Green Destination Assessment.

What is the Green Deal?

Green Deal is a collaboration between The Netherlands and the United Kingdom to support each other on individual efforts, especially in priority areas such as sustainable energy, nature management, sustainable tourism, and waste policy.

(Source:  TCB)

Bonaire Celebrates its National Pride on September 6th, 2016–Dia di Boneiru

Dia di Boneiru, or Bonaire Day, is celebrated each year on September 6th.

 

This year, the Bonaire Day festivities will be held in the village of Rincon. At 9:00 AM, there will be a ceremony at the Centro Cocari Rincon.  At 12:00 Noon, there will be various displays of culture, and at night, local artisans will present their wares.

Bonaire's Flag Day is September 6th.

For more information about the events of this legal holiday, please contact the Island Government’s Department of Communication & Protocol at 717-5330, extension 277.

For those visiting Bonaire next week, this day will provide an excellent focus of the national pride of those who were born here, or chose to live here, on Bonaire.

(Source:  Island Government) 

 

 

Bonaire’s Wastewater Treatment System Reaches a Milestone

With the ongoing use of Bonaire’s recently installed sewer system for properties near to or adjoining the coastal areas of Kralendijk, the Waste Water Treatment Plant reached a milestone last week when they processed the 1000th batch of wastewater on August 1st, 2016.  This equates to more than 276,050 cubic meters of treated wastewater since its launch in early 2015.  The treated water is distributed daily for use in irrigation.

webA total of 16 farmers (kunukeros in Papiamentu) now receive the water for use on their farms.  The quality of the irrigation water meets the standards set by the Public Entity Bonaire, and, even more impressive, the quality is higher than the requirements imposed by the Netherlands for purified wastewater that gets placed as surface water. Bonaire has access to safe and high-quality irrigation water for agriculture and landscaping.

The Public Entity Bonaire and WEB (Water & Electricity Bonaire) are currently preparing for the 10th EDF (European Development Fund) of the sewerage project Kloaka, in which parts of Hato and Belnem will be connected, providing even more treated water that can be used for irrigation.

Every cubic meter of wastewater which is treated is helping keep Bonaire’s reefs as free as possible from nutrification (when excess nutrients from a variety of sources–primarily sewage in Bonaire’s situation–set off a cascade of environmental changes).  These changes can cause an over-abundance of algae growth, which competes with corals and other marine creatures for living space on the reef.

(Source:  WEB)

101 Gun Salute to King Willem-Alexander on King’s Day, April 27th, 2016

 

king_willemWednesday, April 27th, 2016 is King’s Day, when the Dutch Kingdom celebrates the official birthday of King Willem-Alexander.  Bonaire will be celebrating as well, with a 101 Gun Salute to the King.

Today, the ship, Zr.Ms. De Zeven Provincien (Seven Provinces), arrived in Bonaire’s Port of Kralendijk for a special three-day visit.

Tomorrow, there will be a 101 Gun Salute to His Majesty taking place in front of Wilhelmina Park.

The Gun Salutes will take place at:

  • 8:00 AM:  33 Cannon Salutes
  • 12:00 Noon:  35 Cannon Salutes
  • 4:00 PM:  33 Cannon Salutes

kingsdayAlthough a 100 Gun Salute is large, Wednesday’s salute will include an extra gun, making it a total of 101, to symbolize the boundlessness of the King.

April 27th is a legal holiday, and many establishments will be closed.

(Source:  RCN)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collection of Marine Souvenirs is Against the Law

coralsBonaire International Airport recently issued a reminder to all departing airline passengers that the transport of marine souvenirs—shells, corals, sea fans, sponges, or any other similar artifacts that originated in the sea—from the island is expressly forbidden by law.  Not only is the collection of such souvenirs violating the regulations of the Bonaire National Marine Park, but it also violates the CITES Convention, of which The Netherlands has been a member country since 1984.  CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments and its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Luggage and carry-on items of departing passengers may be legally searched, and should items be found that violate these laws, the items will be confiscated.  Penalties, and even arrest, may result, so BIA urges its departing visitors to leave those items on the beach and “take only memories, leave only footprints.”  (Source:  Bonaire International Airport)

 




Tracking Bonaire’s Parrots (Loras)–Results from the 2016 Census

20160204-LoracountBonaire’s parrots, known locally as loras, are commonly sighted on Bonaire.  These particular birds are indigenous to Bonaire, but their numbers are low enough to cause concern for their future.  Accordingly, there is an annual effort to make a census count of the loras each January.  The unpredictable behavior of the birds makes each count a challenge to the participating volunteers.

This year’s count was held last Saturday morning, in multiple locations simultaneously, as the birds leave their roosts to begin feeding.  During the census, nearly 900 loras were observed and counted, however, the parrots were mainly observed in residential areas.

20160120-LoraIt should be noted that these counts only provide an approximation of the minimum number of birds on the island, as it is impossible to find and count every single lora.  Several participants in the census reported that they could hear more lora in their assigned areas than they could count.

Washington Slagbaai National Park is always included in the census, but this year the loras that were observed were significantly less than in recent past years (120 in 2016 versus 300 in 2015).   It has been concluded, because of this count, that the majority of lora are residing outside of the park.

Not everyone is pleased with the parrots’ residency.  If food in the wild is scarce, the loras will feed upon fruit trees, much to the chagrin of the owners of the fruit trees.  Bonaire has experienced drought conditions in recent years, which is the probably cause of the migration of the loras into more residential areas, as they are more likely to find food.

This year’s count was the 21st annual event, and was organized by the Department of Environment and Nature of the public entity Bonaire, Foundation Echo, and STINAPA.  (Source:  STINAPA)

 




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