Published On: Wed, Dec 12th, 2018

Residents frustrated after GEBE turns off water

GEBE closes off water Cole Bay tenants SMHDF - 20181212 AB

PHILIPSBURG — Several residents who live in the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation project in Cole Bay have expressed their frustration after the water to their homes have been turned off by the island utility company GEBE. The residents claim that they were given the homes to live in by the former Minister of Public Works Christopher Emmanuel after they lost their homes following the passage of the hurricanes of Irma and Maria in 2017.

They reported that about a month ago after they went to court and were given six months by the judge to find homes. “It is only three weeks since we were in court and now they taken the water,” said one of the residents. “So now we have no lights or water.”

They indicated that they have school age children who are attending school and questioned how are they going manage without water and light.

They spoke with a representative of government on Wednesday who apparently gave them no satisfaction except for advising them to go to the shelters and register so that they could get some place to stay. They refused the offer and said that they will try to make alternative arrangements.

Residents SMHDF homes in Cole Bay - 20181212 AB

However, speaking with the manager of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation Helen Soloman, she said that she had no comment on the current situation. We have however learnt, that the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation has to pay a monthly lease to the land owner as much as NAf 4000.00 per month which the tenants are not contributing to. The water that the tenants were using came from another person who is apparently living in the area.

It was also brought to our attention that one of the residents also owns an apartment building in Cay Hill but still lives in the project. What could not be ascertain is if the structure that is apparently owned by the resident was damaged with the storms of last year

St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation was recently in court with the residents in the Belvedere district where the court ruled that the tenants who lived in some of the apartments should only pay 25% of the rent since the apartments were considered as being in severe disrepair.

Furthermore some of the residents have indicated that in their presentation to the court they asked about the possibilities of placing their own water and light in the buildings that they now occupy. This demand was apparently not granted. They have vowed to remain in the buildings until the six months period, which the judge has given to them at the hearing, is over.