August 5, 2021 -Consumers of Pond Island have approached our office with the information that NRPB staff is pressuring the residents to sign a declaration of intent to accept a compensation package to leave the dump. From earlier correspondence between the NRPB deputy director and the consumer's lawyer Cor Merx, we gathered that the letter of intent is a non-bonding document.
Neither the inhabitant of Pond Island nor the NRPB is bound to the signed intent. Why then pressuring the consumers to sign and why there is a place for a signature of NRPB?
Pond Island consumers and especially the property owners who have contacted the Consumers Coalition complain that the money amounts promised to the tenants is causing that some tenants have stopped to pay the rent of the premises occupied which is causing difficulties for the property owners to meet their financial obligations.
What is more worrisome is that the NRPB staff in their intent to pressure the inhabitants to sign the declaration are advising the inhabitants to accept the offers and the calculations made, without providing the customers the opportunity to consult with their legal advisor or financial experts.
On Tuesday a senior citizen came to the office and told us how they have measured her property and have forced her to sign changes they made on a compensation calculation offer without providing her with a copy of what they put her to sign. This is clearly showing the manipulations of the NRPB and the non-transparent way that the NRPB staff is treating the inhabitants of the dump.
Analyzing the declaration of intent and the compensation package provided to the property owners especially we see that the NRPB is treating the property owners of Pond Island discriminatory. Where the vision and the slogan of the NRPB are “To build Back Better Together”, the NRPB has treated the property owners who qualified for the home repair program differently. The homeowners in the home repair program were provided with compensation for temporary relocation while their home was being repaired and build back better and stronger.
The Pond Island homeowners are offered compensation for a temporary relocation of a maximum of two years and compensation to demolish their property! Nowhere in the letter of intent the property owners nor the tenants are being offered a better build back home after the two years of the temporary location.
Furthermore, the inhabitants are required to sign to leave Pond Island voluntarily within two weeks after receiving the compensation offered, whereas the whole relocation of Pond Island inhabitants is called involuntary resettlement! In other words, bribing the inhabitants with a financial compensation package to voluntarily leave Pond Island, for NRPB to demolish their homes on Pond Island, without constructing a better build back home for them to live elsewhere! Not even the rental tribune or the court provides people with such a time span to move out and look for another location.
These inhabitants without a guarantee of a better build home to live are being discriminated against compared to the homeowners the NRPB has assisted in the Home Repair Project! With our Consumers lawyer, we will address the government and the NRPB about this discriminatory treatment and violation of the equality principle which is anchored in the constitution of St Maarten!