Who is to blame for the delay rebuilding PJIA?
The statement by the Netherlands representative on the Trust Fund Committee shows they are the ones in complete control of releasing any funds until all their requirements are met. While everyone including the Central Bank are blaming the Trust Fund and the World Bank for not moving fast enough to help St. Maarten economy bounce back after the hurricane more than two years ago; then suddenly comes the press statement about giving the final go ahead to start the project.
Now that the complaints are growing over the slow paste of the Trust Fund Money managed by the World Bank, the Sint Maarten Trust Fund Steering Committee announced they are giving the final go-ahead to start the reconstruction of the Princess Juliana Airport on Sint Maarten. Some USD$72 million from the Trust Fund, financed by the Netherlands, is allocated for the reconstruction, and the European Investment Bank is also contributing with a loan of USD$50 million.
The representative of the Netherlands on the Trust Fund Steering Committee, Mr. Frans Weekers is quoted as saying in the press statement; “I am very pleased that we were able to approve the governance conditions for the airport. Now the reconstruction of the airport can start and we can ensure that the resources are spent responsibly and sustainably”.
The press statement further states; the plans for the reconstruction are ready, and the necessary financing agreements were signed off at the end of 2019. However a number of conditions aimed at strengthening the management of the airport were attached to this plan. This includes actions to improve the corporate governance of the airport and put focus on ‘building back better’; so that, it is guaranteed that the resources for the repair of the Airport will be used transparently and effectively.
Parallel to the financing process started in 2018, preparations for the reconstruction of the airport terminal had begun. As a result, remediation works at the airport can commence. After tendering, it is expected that the extensive repairs will start by the end of the third quarter of this year. The full reconstruction of the airport will be executed in phases, with a total time span of 18-22 months.
There seem to be some inconsistencies in the penultimate paragraph of the released statement that raises questions as to who is at fault for the long delay, and whether the project has started or, is only now getting the go ahead after the Netherlands Government and the Trust Fund Committee are satisfied with the conditions placed on the release of the money to guarantee the spending in a responsible and sustainable way. All of which takes up lots of time and still another almost 2 years to complete the project after the bidding process is completed, in another 8 months.