Published On: Mon, Apr 13th, 2020

Samuel: System not designed for deliveries

Minister of Education Rodolphe SamuelPHILIPSBURG — Minister of Education Drs. Rodolphe Samuel was called out on social media as owner of Marguerita Grocery in Middle Region to deliver free bread to the community in support of those who need food and could not get via the announced order and delivery system.

Marguerita Grocery also bakes and sells fresh bread daily when open to the general public. In a discussion with StMaartenNews.com, Samuel pointed out that as minister the supermarket and bakery businesses have been ‘placed at arm’s length’ from his person. Meaning as minister he is no longer involved in the day to day operation of the supermarket and bakery and, as such, he is not involved in the decision-making process of the company’s management.

In a statement disseminated via social media, Minister Samuel addressed in general terms the issues plaguing supermarkets facing challenges with their ordering and delivery services. “The buying and shopping system in Sint Maarten is not design to do deliveries in big numbers.” Samuel wrote.

“Most persons earning under $2000,— would not buy 2 weeks of groceries. We the people of Sint Maarten usually buy what we want for now. It is important for us to realize by now that things have change and the way we have done things must change also.” Samuel continued.

“Wholesale grocery businesses in Sint Maarten are not design to handle 25 small grocers ordering online. For this they would need persons to order pick those invoices. Then the delivery would be a challenge because before every store would carry their own order. Now the wholesaler is asked to do the delivery.” Samuel further explained in his statement.

Minister Samuel pointed out in his personal commentary that there are all sort of reasons why there may be challenges facing the order and delivery process, from language challenges of the workers working in the supermarkets and they not being able to read the whatsapp messages and understand the voicenotes in these whatsapp messages. “Depending on the small shop that you enter you would know as a Sint Maarten resident that some workers do not speak nor read your language of communication.” the minister wrote. “So when you send them a voice note or a hand written order, they would have a challenge picking your order.”

Besides the multi-cultural aspects involved in this process in terms of languages and the barriers these can impose, the logistics involved is another issue one must take into consideration. “Your order would have to be brought to you by someone who don’t move around in your community.” Samuel explained. “Persons who would be challenged if they need to find your home.” Given the poor conditions of roads on St. Maarten with no street names and missing house numbers in most neighborhoods, this can indeed be an issue.

A hundred delivery cars making 4 trips in a day will only reach 400 persons per day, the minister calculated. “Solution for now is shop close to home.” Samuel stated. “We are faced with keeping you home. Which is the best remedy against this virus and making sure you have what to eat.”

In his message Samuel apparently hinted at measures that would be put in placed this week, as the Prime Minister announced in her national address on Monday evening that supermarkets would be allowed to open back up on Thursday. The limited movements plan proposed by Prime Minister Jacobs corresponds with what Minister Samuel indicated in his message in regards to people being limited to shopping in their own districts while “stores open for some hours a day.”

Another aspect of the order and delivery system that also poses a challenge as delivering someone what you may think they need to eat is sometimes difficult. You would get the “I want to buy my own stuff”-attitude, concluded Minister of Education, Drs. Rodolphe Samuel, who has worked as an educator in the education field for many years and has a degree in Education.


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