Bonaire’s South Pier is made up of two plots of land, one of which is owned by the Public Body of Bonaire (Openbaar Lichaam Bonaire, OLB). The OLB has granted hereditary tenure of the adjacent plot to the complainant, an entrepreneur, to serve as the site for a shopping mall and other developments. The complainant has let some of the retail units in the new mall. The South Pier has for many years been used to land supplies on Bonaire. The South Pier is the only site on the island suitable for loading and unloading the container vessels operated by a shipping company. On and around the South Pier, the shipping company has parked trailers and containers unloaded from its vessels. The trailers and containers obscure the view from and of the shopping mall.
The complainant’s grievance is that the OLB is failing to take enforcement action against containers parked for excessive periods in contravention of a parking ban covering the South Pier.
In my capacity as National Ombudsman, I note that all parties in this case have an interest in resolving the dispute, because all parties are currently disadvantaged by the dispute on a daily basis. I am also of the opinion that legal proceedings cannot lead to a sustainable solution to the problem. On the contrary, such proceedings are liable to further sour relationships and lead to the dispute continuing for years to come. Such a scenario serves no one’s interest.
In view of the foregoing, I consider that the government has a responsibility to facilitate a resolution of this dispute. Discussion amongst the various parties involved with a view to exploring the options and devising a mutually acceptable solution is the only strategy that promises to yield a solution to the current impasse.
In view of the OLB’s contribution to development of the situation and the OLB’s responsibilities under civil and administrative law, I believe that it is up to the OLB to work with the police, the shipping company and the complainant to find a way of rectifying the complainant’s grievance. There has to date been no evidence of such cooperation. To that extent, I deem the investigated conduct to be inappropriate.
I have accordingly made a recommendation.
One of the criteria for good governance is that the government seeks to avoid or limit escalation in its interactions with the public. To that end, communication skills and a solution-focused attitude are essential.
The National Ombudsman recommends that the OLB takes the lead in securing the participation of the police, the complainant and the shipping company in discussions aimed at devising a solution to the current parking-related nuisance.