The Prime Minister talks about ATVs and UTVs

Indeed, she said just recently, there is a consensus that something needs to be done, about the systematic destruction of nature by these unsafe, noisy, pollutants.

In June 2021, an inter-departmental committee started looking at options and there are two things GOA committed doing.

  1. Legislation will be introduced to stop importation of ATVs/UTVs for a while. 2. There will be a moratorium on permits, to stabilize the market, meanwhile, work will continue to find an alternative route where UTVs and ATVs can be used, since there is a demand for so-called adventure among visitors.

The committee will also determine our ATV/UTV carrying-capacity and cap the number of vehicles allowed.

All I can says is: Moratorium on hotel rooms.

A moratorium on building additional hotel rooms in Aruba, has regularly been pledged, yet more and more building takes place.

GOA is clearly attempting to buy time here.

The former Minister of Transportation handed out permits indiscriminately. He will forever be remembered for his heartlessness and insensitivity, to nature.

BUT, if all they do is forbid more imports, it becomes a different kind of disaster. The fleet of UTVs on the island will become ancient. They’ll start belching more exhaust fumes. They will become even less safe. But for commercial interests they’ll keep getting rented. And at some point we’ll have the Aruban UTV equivalent of what happened to automobiles in Cuba after the revolution — a bunch of old, polluting UTVs that are somehow kept running by mechanics with homemade parts — because the manufacturers don’t sell parts any longer for these outdated vehicles.

This policy cannot be considered ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP!

What kind of message is MinPres sending, saying GOA wants to find a solution that doesn’t do “too much damage” to the environment? According to the ROP, the environment is part of a three-pronged policy, a balance of Tourism, Economy, and Environment. But a “not too much damage” policy doesn’t treat the environment as if it is equally important to the others. While electric vehicles are a notable improvement — no exhaust fumes and virtually no noise — shocos, rabbits, lizards and plants will continue to be destroyed, along with our landscape, while plumes of dust will continue to coat the houses of our residents along the UTV routes. The only way to remedy the situation is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

How about a gradual reduction of 25% a year? This will noticeably reduce traffic until there are no more tours. It gives operators some time to pay back for vehicles they bought. And it allows mechanics and guides to get jobs at the new Embassy Suites, St. Regis and that giant building at Baby Beach, instead of importing foreign workers. This transition is an opportunity for employees to move from one sector to the next, without permanently putting workers out of work.

MOST IMPORTANT immediately: Rent-A-Car companies should not be allowed to convert their V-car fleets to ATVs/UTVs. Car rental companies must adhere to the specification of their V permits for cars. Stop the conversion of car companies to cheap UTV/ATV companies.

VERY IMPORTANT immediately: Ban the importation of 1,000 CC plus motors, too powerful for the weight of the car — they are accidents waiting to happen. Most accidents in Aruba are caused by those ATV/UTVs with the big engines. Limit the c/c to 800, even less, nice and slow!

Extremely IMPORTANT immediately: Enforce the 7 tourist vehicles, plus guide in front of the caravan and one guide in the back, no more endless parades!!

The MinPres statement is just buying time like the hotel moratorium from over a decade ago — things will start going full speed again. Too many commercial interests too close to our dear elected leaders.

An extra lesson in economics for those who are not familiar with the materials: These vehicles rent for $150 – $180 per vehicle, running 2 tours a day. During peak season some tours have 12 vehicles per tour, 2 tours a day. Taking an average price of $165×24 = that’s $3,960 a day.  They work 6 days a week, that amounts to $23,760 a week, this sums up to Awg 41.580 a week. Even if they run only 8 weeks out of the year at full capacity that will gross them Awg 332.640. And that is a lot of money. I do NOT think their expenses are very high. Even if they lease these vehicles from the distributor, pay 2 guides, buy a couple of water bottles, there is still a lot left over. And that is the charms of operating a UTV/ATV tour company.

And operators are not committed to the Aruba product, and environment.

Neither are legislators from what we saw last week.



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January 24, 2022
Rona Coster