Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the Government of the Netherlands made up to 470 million euros available for the long-term recovery and reconstruction of Sint Maarten. This funding – called the Sint Maarten Trust Fund – is managed by the World Bank and locally implemented by the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.
With the goal of strengthening the resilience of our electrical grid, one of the Trust Fund’s activities will be the underground placement of the remaining overhead electricity lines.
The road crews of contractor Windward Roads B.V. will dig trenches on selected residential streets and – under the guidance of N.V. GEBE and activity supervisor ILACO Suriname N.V. – place overhead electricity lines and water pipes underground. Empty conduits will also be placed in the trenches, paving the way for the country’s telecommunications companies to lay fiber-optic cables in the future. During the final stages, aluminum light poles will be installed to replace the older wooden ones.
Placing these utility connections underground will expand N.V. GEBE’s existing underground network, thereby improving Sint Maarten’s resilience to natural disasters, such as a hurricane. Underground cables cannot be broken and blown around in a storm’s strong winds, which dramatically reduces the chances of power loss or debris falling on the homes of unlucky residents. It also lessens the time needed to restore electricity, water, and internet connections after a devastating hurricane strike. These critical services are vitally important in government’s efforts to coordinate post-disaster relief and recovery, as well as in helping citizens return to normalcy.
When does the activity start and end?
From a budget of approximately US $3.8 million, the work will take place in several phases during the second half of 2022. Each phase will take approximately 2-5 weeks to complete.
|Phase #||Affected Streets|
|1||Spanish Fort Road
Tassel Drive & Tassel Road
|3||Bleeding Heart Road
Betty’s Estate Road
|4||Marigot Hill Road
|7||Pumpkin Road & Pumpkin Drive
Okra Drive & Okra Road
How will the work affect me?
Unless you have an overhead electricity line connected directly to your home, the work will not take place on your property, but on the public road. To minimize inconvenience to you and the rest of the community, an environmental and social management plan has been developed and will be implemented by the Contractor.
All residents on the affected streets can expect that:
- Safe crossings will be placed over trenches in front of driveways and walking paths so that you and your household can freely and safely access your home
- Traffic management measures will be in place to alert and guide motorists on the work in progress
- Debris and waste will be properly collected and disposed of
- Noise, vibration, dust, and emissions will be kept within legal limits and specifications
- No work will be done at night unless absolutely necessary
- The availability of electricity and water will not be interrupted, except when each house is being reconnected to the new underground system
- Workers will be respectful and considerate when interacting with community members
I have an electricity line connected to my home. What happens to me?
You will be contacted by N.V. GEBE and asked to sign a permission form to allow work to occur on your property. This will include digging a trench to connect your home to the underground grid. At the completion of the work, the contractor will return your property to its original state. This means that all trenches will be filled, and any concrete that was damaged will be replaced. All reconnections will be done by technicians of N.V. GEBE and not the contractor. Your electricity service may be disrupted for a couple of hours when the reconnection is being done.