Minister Doran: “There is a systematic approach to keep me busy and to prevent progress”

PHILIPSBURG — “If it were up to me, I would fix all infrastructure. But it is all about the money and about prioritizing. Financing is one of our major issues,” Minister of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert Jurendy Doran said during an interview with Grace Blijden (Lady Grace) in the radio broadcast The Breakfast Lounge on Thursday.

“We have to pick and choose. We would need 10 million guilders to properly resurface all our major roads, but we only have 2 million in the budget for road maintenance. We have a list of deplorable roads. We will begin with the most deplorable one and work our way up from there.”

Minister Doran touched upon a variety of issues during the interview, from the court ruling about the long lease rights for Alegria that went his way to the quest for affordable housing.

Doran said that there had been “a lot of pressure from all corners” to make him sign off on Alegria’s request for rights of long lease to a water parcel adjacent to the Morgan Resort in Burgeaux Bay. He repeated that the favorable court ruling was “a monumental victory, not for me, but for St. Maarten.”

See related article: Alegria loses battle for long lease rights

The minister said that all he has been doing since taking office back in 2020 is “cleaning up.” Asked about his plans for 2023, he said: “I have made a conscious decision a little over a month ago that I am going to put all my energy into new things and getting things done. I am going to limit the time  dedicated to court cases, because that has been taking up a lot of my time. Don’t underestimate,” he added, “There is a systematic approach to keep me busy and to prevent progress.”

One of the items on Doran’s agenda is the quest for social houses, affordable homes and home ownership. “I believe in home ownership and I know personally how difficult it is to get a mortgage. Due to inflation and rising construction prices it is only going to become more difficult. So if we can put something in place to promote home ownership, then that is the direction I’ll be going.”

The minister said that there are “a lot of people” living in social houses “that are not supposed to be there. They can afford better. I want to make it possible for people to move from social homes into their own homes and to create thereby space for those who really need social homes.”

Doran also revealed his personal view on the development of the location of the former government administration building and the post office: “Commercial units at the bottom and residential units – one bedroom or studios – at the top. And a multilevel parking garage,” he said.

Related articles: Minister Doran intends to bring life to Philipsburg

The tender for the demolition of the old structures is “in the evaluation stage,” he added. “This is going to be done very quickly at the beginning of the new year.”

Minister Doran also addressed the staffing issues at his ministry. On Friday, December 9, he will be at a “job mixer” at the office of the minister plenipotentiary in The Hague. “We have trouble with recruitment and we currently have six critical vacancies,” he said. “The government has to facilitate and make it attractive for people to come back to the island

Doran said that when he became minister at VROMI, there was just one of the six required department heads. “We miss a lot of leadership. We lost key staff to the NRPB (National Recovery Program Bureau).”

Another issue on Doran’s mind is accessibility. “We lack a lot of infrastructure for people who cannot move around like you and me,” he said, at a given moment referring to such citizens as “differently abled.” As an example he referred to the current parliament building of which the first floor is only accessibly via a rather steep staircase. “That is not correct. In the new parliament building we have to make sure that all the bells and whistles are there.” That remark referred specifically to the installation of elevators.

Lastly, the minister used the occasion to congratulate Keshia Richards, daughter of former Lt. Governor Franklyn Richards, with the opening of her notary office. The minister also complimented his acting secretary-general Raitza Narain for doing a great job.


Related links:
Interview with Grace Blijden (Lady Grace) in the radio broadcast The Breakfast Lounge
legria loses battle for long lease rights
Minister Doran intends to bring life to Philipsburg
Job Mixer in Den Haag, Holland. Click here for more details>>>