Opinion: Quotable: “I feel like taking all that sand and dump it at Theo’s house.”

POSTED: 01/17/12 12:37 PM

We don’t often hear something quotable from MP Hyacinth Richardson, but yesterday he went all out with an off the cuff remark: “I feel like taking all that sand and dump it at Theo’s house.”

First of all, we’d like to remark that this is not the way to address a member of the cabinet, but maybe our MP thought that he has known the honorable Theodore Heyliger long enough to take this route. Nobody even raised an eyebrow when he said it, but that could also be because nobody was paying attention.

However, that ring road. We are stuck with it of course because Heyliger needed to dig all that sand out of the port to accommodate those huge cruise ships. It was unceremoniously dumped in the Great Salt Pond in anticipation of the Great Salt Ring Road.

Still, the anger over the ring road seemed a bit tame yesterday. Even so, heavy equipment operators started dumping sand for this road in the Great Salt Pond in July 2009. We are therefore just a couple of months shy of the third anniversary of what is slowly becoming our most visible, most ignored, and mostly forgotten disaster.

Nobody has ever shown that this ring road will tackle traffic congestion in a meaningful way. The only benefit we’ve hand from this pile of sand so far is that it has created additional parking space. That is not a solution – it is only an encouragement for more people to bring more cars to Philipsburg.
And in the meantime the next project is already on the horizon: the causeway, aptly named the “so-called bridge to nowhere” by opposition leader William Marlin, who also nicknamed that other stumbling government project with the unforgettable term the white elephant with the green hat.”
Our government certainly has ambition, but when push comes to shove it is every time short of funds to complete a project. The beautification of downtown Philipsburg was maybe a great idea, but somebody forgot that the beautified streets also need to be maintained. Since this is not happening, beauty has in certain places left the town in a hurry, to be replaced by decay.
Is this, we wonder, the realization of Claude Wathey’s dream? For now, it feels more like the materialization of megalomaniacal ideas.

One parliamentarian asked yesterday about the cost for finishing the ring road. That’s about 22 million guilders ($12.2 million), we wrote in April 2010, so we start thinking that the MP who asked the question does not read our paper or that he has to work on his memory. And by now, those 22 million will probably have become something like 25 million.

The question is where we want to go from here. Do we want to create more projects that we won’t be able to finish? Or are we going to concentrate on completing a couple of jobs. The new government building is an easy one: move all civil servants who are scheduled to work there into the building – accompanied by their desks, their chairs, their phones, their file cabinets and their other office paraphernalia. Please, don’t give us stories about how these old desks don’t fit in the new building; it is simply not very believable.

With all the money that the government does not have to spend on that furniture, or on suspect airline tickets to Canada, it could start to upgrade the beautified city. And once the tax dollars come rolling in – the result of the long heralded improvement of the tax collection system – finishing the ring road will be a walk in the park.
Then, and only then, considering that horrible bridge across the lagoon could become an option – if it is an option at all.

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Opinion: Quotable: “I feel like taking all that sand and dump it at Theo’s house.” by

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