New parking system at Clem Labega is readyPOSTED: 01/7/16 6:06 PM
St. Maarten – The new parking system at Clem Labega square should be operational soon but the seemingly simple project has a long history, Prime Minister William Marlin explained yesterday. Motorists will have to pull a ticket from a machine at the entrance opposite the Windward Islands Bank before the beam goes up to allow them to enter.
Access is only allowed on a right hand turn, coming from the direction of the police station and the Government Administration building. The exit remains opposite the old fire station on Cannegieter Street, but motorists are only allowed to take a right hand turn. By eliminating cross-overs, the government intends to improve the flow of traffic.
“The equipment was already on the island when I left office as Vice Prime Minister in 2013,” Marlin said. “For some strange reason it was not installed. From my office I looked straight onto the parking lot and I sometimes pointed out to people what a mess it was. Having the same entrance and exit created and continues to create enormous traffic jams in and around Back Street and sometimes up to Front Street. That is why we decided to invest in it.”
After Marlin left office the project seemed forgotten – nothing happened in 2013, 2014 until deep into 2015.
“After the motion of no confidence (on September 30, 2014 – ed.) all of a sudden government started working like never before,” Marlin mused. “They did more after the motion of no confidence than in the nine months before it. One of the actions was to hurriedly make it appear as if the government was ready to open the parking lot. Someone wanted a feather in his cap, I think. Right now, the system is ready to become operational.”
There is however still something the current government is not happy with: the large boulders that were places on the pavement around the parking lot. “They kind of deface the whole area,” Marlin said. The minister of education at the time (Rita Bourne-Gumbs – ed.) said not to worry and that school children would paint them to make them look nice. We believe that we don’t need to deface the square to have people abide by the law. If parking is not allowed on those places, or if people drive over the pavement to escape payment, they should be punished accordingly, or put some other measures in place.”