Heyliger pleads for understanding with the ongoing road works on St. Maarten

POSTED: 07/21/11 11:40 AM

“There is no better timing”

St. Maarten / By Donellis Browne– St. Maarten Minister of Housing, Physical Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (Vromi) and Vice Prime Minister Theodore Heyliger has pleaded with the public to be patient with the ongoing road works that has turned St. Maarten into a construction zone in recent months. He made the plea even as he announced that several of the projects have been delayed by the recent downpours of rain.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing Heyliger said a recent incident between an off duty police officer and an MNO staffer is evidence of the building road rage over the construction. The company stopped work because of the incident and is claiming 86, 000 guilders in damages.

“That incident was quite unfortunate but it shows you the kind of road rage that goes on with the repairs and construction in our infrastructure and it is seeming that no matter when we do road repairs or infrastructure work, whether it’s in the day time it causes severe concern and even at night now, it causes severe strain. We need to take into account that this kind of work needs to be done. There is no better timing than the ones we have done,” Heyliger said.

The Vromi Minister says the ministry has rejected MNO’s claim for damages on the basis that the company’s insurance should cover the damages to the vehicle that was involved in the incident even though the company has said it won’t be reimbursed by it insurer.

“I have referred them to Minister Duncan because he has a much larger budget than I have and it was his police officer that, instead of protecting the worker, told him to get out of the way. We’ve also had meetings with the Ministry of Justice to look into the possibility of, while yes the Ministry of Justice continues to be understaffed, I think in the US and other major countries that you have the police accompany the road working crews to make sure the people adhere to the safety of those crews, so that has also been requested by the Ministry of Vromi to them,” Heyliger said.

Justice Minister Roland Duncan confirmed that his ministry will be the one to respond to the company’s claims.

“As a preliminary response I’ll tell you that I think that it’s bogus and highly exaggerated,” Duncan said.

The Justice Minister also confirmed he’s initiated talks with the police force on the possibility of granting Heyliger’s request for accompaniment.

“We are challenged in terms of how much staff we have available, but we will do our utmost to help. It’s a matter of how do you satisfy the request,” Duncan said.

Updates

The various projects are meant to provide key upgrades in several areas.

The project from Ebenezer to Cul de Sac is to allow government to install a sewage line from the processing plant in Ebenezer. More and more of the road has been closed off as the project continues and government has chosen to do it now because schools are closed.

“We are a little bit behind schedule on the Ebenezer sewage line that is going along now because of the rains, but they will catch up with that over the next few weeks,” Heyliger said.

To speed things up Heyliger requested Duncan give a dispensation so that trucks can be on the road in peak traffic hours so that deliveries are sped up.

“I have consulted the police on this request also and we are examining the possibilities for making it happen,” Duncan said.

Work on the Dutch Quarter upgrade, Cole Bay and Middle Region is also “progressing well”. Work in Dutch Quarter has also been delayed because of the rain and Heyliger has said that the recent rains are what created the conditions that led to residents of Middle Region not being able to get onto the road.

“Those issues (in Middle Region) are being addressed so that we can accommodate the residents as much as possible, but again there are times that we’re not going to be able to do so because, of course, it is unforeseen because of the weather we’ve been having,” Heyliger said.

 

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