Bati Bleki Buzz, Weekly Recap, June 23rd, 2019

DOW, the road to hell is paved with good intentions

One of my friends forwarded a FB message from a tourist that went the following:

We arrived today and I wish I had known how horrible the current road construction is. I don’t know what genius thought it would be a good idea to simultaneously close/bloc most of the 2 major roads and multiple intersections in the most trafficked area of Aruba, leaving even experienced drivers driving aimlessly … on mostly dirt, unmarked and out of the way…. I can only shake my head at the idiocies of some people, no detours, no signs, only a handful of visible crews working, in one or two locations…

Well said. Exactly our sentiments. It is crazy to inconvenience A COUNTRY, and subject us all to such confusion and disruption.

I called the man we all love to hate, Marlon Croes, the man who created the chaos.

Marlon explained that the mythical Watty Vos Boulevard includes EIGHTEEN roundabouts and that one at the time – it takes 3 months – it would take SIX years to complete the project, so that poor country Aruba wouldn’t be able to finance it, let alone afford it.

So the geniuses at the helm agreed to push it, and get it done in TWO and a HALF YEARS, but work got delayed, with the change of government, and due to less-than-perfect organizational skills.

Consequently, by August 16th, the projected date of conclusion, the contractor MUST deliver a reasonable product OTHERWISE steep fines and penalties go into effect.

Croes reports finances are at the heart of the 200 million project.

The mega rotunda at the airport, for example. DOW was presented with five different options, including a tunnel, 49 million, a fly over bridge, 21 million, some fancy traffic light arrangement and one more engineering wonder, anyway, they picked the most reasonable solution serving the traffic capacity, aesthetic needs and safety requirements, with a 7 million price tag.

A tunnel would have been nice, but…

So listen up peeps: The Superfood roundabout will be open Thursday, then the Bowling roundabout a few days later, and the Hospital roundabout following. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

The intersections will be open, then the final layer will be applied with the beautification stage.

We will look back in dread at the time the traffic was chaotic, as we shave one minute off the commute!

Croes doesn’t see any similar additional infrastructure project within the next 20 years.

But if DOW does, please spend some time thinking strategically, spend some money on signs, and on a PR campaign that would explain WHY you thought it would be a good idea to simultaneously close/bloc most of the 2 major roads and multiple intersections in the most trafficked area of Aruba.

You are the man most tourists and local love to hate, I told Croes, as we got off the phone. I have elephant skin he said, impenetrable after so many years at DOW, sticks and stones don’t hurt me.

Dear peeps: Did you see the Hato Ski Jump? Apparently that was the cheapest most efficient way to connect Ponton to Eagle.  Really?

Raiz what’s next

About 200 concerned citizens gathered at Cas di Cultura to listen to 6 speakers during the Sustainable Tourism Symposium last weekend, many of them seniors concerned about development, fewer young people.

According to party leader Ursell Arends, the party’s next move is to gear up towards election, upcoming September 24th, 2021.

So what is the party’s strategy to recruit more young people, I asked.

Arends explained that the goal is to prepare 21 leaders within the next two years, in collaboration with the local Yamanota Toastmasters Club, they will be ready to join the party’s political list in 2021, and Aruba will have a choice of fresh leadership.

Another immediate goal is an education symposium. As it stands today our island’s education system doesn’t produce the desired future citizens we need. Today’s education system is based on results and not on personal development.

Our schools, Arends says, churn out demotivated graduates, who do not intend to work for the island’s main economic pillar, thus innovation in education is pivotal.

Some of that sentiment was also echoed in Jim Hepple’s presentation at the symposium, how schools now serve the teachers as a steady source of income and reliable employment, but the students are not being helped.

According to Hepple: “Our education system has to provide the opportunity to learn applied skills. We will need to provide superior service to be competitive. Our workforce needs to be highly trained. This is a key priority, ensuring that our workforce has high-quality applied skills, as line staffers, supervisors or managers. So our education providers must keep up with, and have knowledge of, modern and contemporary Tech.”

According to Arends, Raiz will also be reaching out and connecting with the community, by hosting a Bingo at Club Caiquetillo, on June 29th.

Overall, Arends was pleased with the results and the turn-out of the symposium.

When I asked how he defines the party, he said Raiz is a Social-Democratic-Progressive party which is important to keep in mind because by nature of being a Social Democracy we understand they support social justice and protection of minorities etc, within a liberal society, with a capitalist economy.

That is a mouthful.

The progressive indicates modernism and the embrace of science and technology to help society evolve and develop.

So far so good.

Arends reports that the party will soon also add ECO to its name, as in Eco-Social-Democratic-Progressive, recognizing and honoring that Nature has rights. This belief confirms that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. And Raiz will be helping pass the Rights of Nature legislation which will be revolutionary on its own.

While it is pro-healthcare for all, it will demand better control and a better oversight of expenses so we can get more bang for our buck.

More tomorrow.

Aruparking about to Reinvent Itself

A former Setar Department-Head made his way, via Arubus to Aruparking & Arutram as the new director of the mother company and its two problematic daughters.

I understand that in an upcoming press conference the new director Edwin Mohamed, who has been in place since May, will be introducing changes pertaining all three companies.

As far as Arubus the news is good, 15 new buses from Brazil, in August, then a few more in September.

The useless Chinese-made buses, purchased during the former administration will be retired.

When you buy ‘cheap,’ you end up paying dear!

I also hope they start running more minibuses in secondary routes, and stop running the big ones, empty!

Aruparking will spend about one-and-a half months on a campaign in which it will attempt to teach us a new set of rules: Parking close to main street has a price tag; parking further away is free.

The merchants on the main street will be happier when rules are restored and parking is again available, at a modest price. Right now, employees park in all prime locations and clients must walk. 

If you recall, Aruparking was introduced with an iron fist in 2016.

Then during the dying phase of the AVP campaign in 2017, clamping was lifted, and in one fell swoop, the 18 months spent on educating the public to park and pay, went down the toilet.

Paying for parking became on option, a suggestion, not a must.

Offenders could no longer be clamped, you got a yellow sticker, which most drivers promptly removed.

BUT, a new age is coming: Parking must be paid for from 9am to 3pm, Sunday is free, Saturday you pay, business as usual, 9am to 3pm.

I went to the company’s FB to find out how much, and whether we are allowed to park in yellow spots on weekend, but did not find the info because the last update was from November 2018.

That’s unfortunate, no wonder clients lost respect for the system.

But changes are coming, and an updated FB page, with it.

Talking about Arutram, apparently, while costing an arm and a leg, client satisfaction is high. The world’s most expensive tram system shuttles 16.000 visitors a month, from the cruise ship terminal down main street.

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June 23, 2019
Rona Coster