Reaction to L’Escargot shooting – Indian merchants call for improved street lighting

POSTED: 11/1/12 11:47 AM

St. Maarten – Better lighting in and around Philipsburg and constant patrols by the police and Control Unit are very much needed to stave off crimes against residents, visitors and businesses, the Indian Merchants Association (Ima) said in a press release issued yesterday.
“Ima is saddened by the recent shooting of the owner of L’Escargot Restaurant Joel Morand and the injuring of his wife Sonya during a daring robbery on Friday night. The robbery has also become part of the memory of two tourists who were also confronted by the gunman and had their possessions taken away. We wish the Morands a fast recovery,” the Ima stated.

“This is not our Friendly Island. These crimes – big and small – will have an impact on our economy and the livelihoods of everyone on the community. The first step to safeguarding our country’s reputation as a safe destination, a place for holidays without fear, is for government to ensure all streetlights along Front and Back Streets are working. The same goes for the alleyways linking the two streets and others in Philipsburg. Sufficient and proper lighting is a great crime deterrent,” the association noted.

“We are aware that the police force is and has been short staffed. However, the need for more constant foot and car patrol in and around Philipsburg is very necessary, day and night and throughout the year. We remember the days when the police was assisted by the Voluntary Corps St. Maarten VKS who carried out nightly patrols around the town. Those patrols created a sense of security and even had as a spin off life in Philipsburg after 6:00 p.m. Is there some way government can get these patrols started again?” the merchants wonder.

The association states that the police have always cooperated and tried its best for the community.
“Another security and image issue facing the destination is the “barkers” who are vendors without any permit or guided by any regulation. These “barkers” roam Great Bay Beach and town harassing tourists to purchase their wraps and other items. Some are even aggressive and go to the extreme of waking up tourist sleeping in beach lounge chair to peddle their wares.”

Ima stated that it has no problem with any legal tax-paying businesses or individuals making a living. “But when the method used can ultimately hamper the country’s image as a safe and top destination something must be done to correct the situation.”
Ima wishes that the lighting in Philipsburg and elsewhere in the country will be addressed soon by government to assure the comfort and safety of residents and visitors, that police patrols become even more constant and that the plague of the barkers be remedied as soon as possible.

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