St. Maarten: On September 7, 2016 the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) requested a town hall style meeting with Mr. Mark Mingo, PORT CEO and management of the Port Group of Companies (Port) to discuss the alleged request by the Port to have the Simpson Bay and the Simpson Bay Lagoon given to the Port in the form of a concession. The SMMTA’s meeting request was based on the Port’s press release of September 5, 2016 stating specifically that “the Port’s door is always open.”
To date, neither the Port nor anyone from the Ministry of TEATT has responded to, or even acknowledged receipt of any of the letters from the SMMTA questioning the issuance of a concession for Simpson Bay and the Simpson Bay Lagoon. As such, the SMMTA hereby publicly requests that the Port and Minister of TEATT, Mrs. Ingrid Arrindell respond to the following questions prior to taking any further steps regarding the abovementioned concession.
- Will the zoning plan for Simpson Bay and Cole Bay as presented in the past to the general public still be in force or will the sought after transfer of this concession allow the Port to deviate from what was presented to the people?
- Is the Port planning to, amongst other things, build a cruise ship pier for home porting, or other marine activity including a fueling facility right outside the bridge in front of the former BBW property and the Simpson Bay Beach?
- Does the Port intend to pump up dredged material to fill in the lagoon even more and create additional land in front of the Airport? If so, where will this dredged material come from?
- Should the Concession be awarded, how does the Port plan to pay for the cost of the concession? Would increasing the current Bridge Fees, Mooring Fees, or Through-put Fees on Fuel and Containers be considered, thereby again increasing the cost of living on St. Maarten?
- Before any increase of abovementioned fees, will an Economic Impact Study be made? If so, when will the general public be able to review such a study?
- Before any additional dredging is done in Simpson Bay or the Simpson Bay Lagoon, will the Port conduct an Environmental Impact Study? If so, when will the general public be able to review that study?
- What is the reason for the requested Concession? And why now?
- Why is ANY Simpson Bay and Simpson Bay Lagoon related concession being requested by the Port directly?
The SMMTA feels that it in particular and the public in general deserve answers to the above questions and that failure to address these concerns raises even more questions about the agenda of the Port and the Ministry of TEATT. At the end of the day the most important question is – Why is the request for the transfer of the concession being dealt with behind closed doors so close to the upcoming Parliamentary Elections?
On behalf of the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association
By: Michael J. Ferrier
SMMTA Board Member & Government Liaison.