Duncan “pretty proud” of “slow progress” on prison renovation

POSTED: 06/11/12 1:13 PM

Ministerial consultation today

St. Maarten – “It will start and finish in less than nine years.” That is the message that Justice Minister Roland Duncan will take to today’s ministerial consultation on the plans of approach. The statement relates directly to the fact that work has not yet started on a long planned renovation.

“Point Blanche has been pending for nine years. I have been in office for 18 months. I got additional funds for the project, so it could be completed in its entirety. I hired a contractor. No one made plans or thought about the extra space that would be needed so we could move the prisoners during the renovations. I found that extra space. I’ve also hired more staff and plan to hire 20 more people,” Duncan said as he outlined the behind the scenes work that has been done to move the project forward.

What he did not tell this newspaper is the he’s also set a date. mr. Richard Gibson Jr. told the court on Friday that the renovation will start on June 25.

“Lievense is the engineer and supervisor on the project. They have hired a contractor who has to plan the work and mobilize. Mobilization is now going on. So Roland Duncan is pretty proud of the very slow progress he has made,” the minister said.

Duncan has also asserted that he will not interfere in order to speed the project, especially because that will create additional costs.

“I don’t have money to hurry it up. I won’t look for more money to speed it up, but I can tell you that it will start and finish in less than nine years,” Duncan said.

The prison is one of the areas that falls under the Plans of Approach agreed to as part of St. Maarten’s transition to becoming a country. That plan states that there will be renovations at the prison, and every quarterly report since the beginning cites that the renovations is one area that is proceeding according to schedule. That has raised concerns in The Hague, because the state of the prison continues to be highlighted in reports by the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture. Those concerns, by amongst others Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies, do not move Duncan.

“I cannot take Miss Spies’ concerns to the bank,” the minister said Sunday.

Today’s ministerial consultation on the plans of approach will follow a familiarization meeting between Spies and members of the Wescot-Williams II Cabinet and a meeting between Spies and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams.

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