Public service contract ensures connectivity
SABA/STATIA—The two-year Public Service Obligation (PSO) between the Makana ferry operator and the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius ensures that connectivity and service level between St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba are maintained.
The ferry operator Blues & Blues from Anguilla has signed a public service contract with the Public Entities Saba and St. Eustatius. This ensures that the operator maintains connectivity and a service level and obtains the rights to the subsidy provided by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW).
The Makana ferry has been providing comfortable and affordable travel between Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten since December 1. Even with the rough sea conditions of the past week, the ferry continued to provide service on the route. Contrary to some media reports, MV Makana is fully seaworthy and was recently inspected.
Due to a technical problem in the weekend the Makana ferry service is unable to operate since Sunday, December 19. Blues & Blues reached out via its agents to solve the transportation need of the stranded passengers. The vessel is currently in St. Maarten for repairs.
For the duration of the repairs to MV Makana, the Nikki V ferry will operate as back-up. MV Nicky V left for St. Eustatius on Wednesday, December 22, from where it will commence operations to Saba and St. Maarten on Thursday, December 23. All passengers who were stranded in the previous days, have returned home.
As a result of the technical problem with MV Makana, an evaluation of the contingency plan will be discussed after the holiday season. The PSO agreement monitors the operation to ensure improvement of service levels and a sustainable continuation after two years. The public entities and the operator started this collaboration for the long term, whereas the social and economic benefits to Saba and St. Eustatius are fundamental. Residents are encouraged to try the new maritime connectivity.
With the success of the maritime connectivity, the two islands have expressed an interest to also look into a PSO to provide air transportation for the Caribbean Netherlands. As this is a different legal framework, this will take time.