Minister Emmanuel: You have to save people from themselves

Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Christophe Emmanuel


PHILIPSBURG – Minister of VROMI Christophe Emmanuel in Wednesday’s, July 26, Council of Ministers Press Briefing fielded questions on the Pearl of China project and the possible rerouting of the Beacon Hill Road.

First, he said no new permits have been sent in relation to the Pearl of China. “I know there is discussion going on right now in terms of not directly looking for a new location for the whole development, but for part of the development. Given the restrictions of the said location, which is there in Belair, all that they want to get done within our development is not possible at the said location. So they are looking into possibly acquiring more land elsewhere to shift part of the development in a different location. But I believe that the Pearl of China, in terms of the excavation permit, the retaining wall permit, those are the permits that they have been granted and I think that they are still working on the logistics in terms of starting,” Minister Emmanuel explained.

Then on the rerouting of the Beacon Hill Road, “Looking into the matter seriously, it is not a new idea that I just came up with one time. And I want to ask many people to know the reason why the divider was placed in the middle of the road. Let’s bear in mind that we had one individual that lost half her face when she tripped and scraped it on the concrete boulder that is placed there to stop the sand. And what we have now is another lost her life, also on the concrete divide. It was placed in the middle of the road because cars used to park there to get a thrill. When the jet blast hit the car it would shake,” the Minister continued.

“…That’s government property. That’s government line. A partial road is already there. We can pull the fence back to where the divider is, you still get the thrill, you still get the blowing back of the airplane. The difference is you’re blown in the sand, not on the concrete,” the Minister further explained.

“We can say what we want to say, but at the end of the day this is something that people come to St. Maarten to enjoy. We’re not condoning it, we’re not saying it’s legal because it’s not. However there’s a 101 signs there. And people still do it…At some point in time you have to save people from themselves,” Minister Emmanuel stated.

“You don’t want tourists to stop coming to this island. Government has a responsibility for safety. That’s what it is. It’s about safety. It’s not about stopping anyone, it’s not about moving businesses. I don’t understand how one person can say something and then it turns out to totally be something else. That’s the reason why it was a possible discussion,” the Minister said.

“Do you know when the sand completely covers that road, the whole residents of Beacon Hill are cut off? They can’t get in and they can’t get out. You know what government has to do? Go in there with a front end loader and move all that sand from there. When that sand is eroded and moves away you see big huge boulders. Those boulders are not there because the beach put them there. No. Government put those boulders there because they had plans to push it out. Those plans are already on the books. This is a reason why you see those huge big boulders. It’s not from the beach. Those are boulders that was put there by government that came from Marigot waterfront to move the beach a bit back, and fill it up to stop that same problem that we are talking about today, and that was a year ago and then you hear people mention, ‘oh, but hundreds of thousands of tourists come and it’s just one death.’ Well, for me that is one too much. I always tell people, they may not like to hear it, but I’m going to say it. It’s not your child, so you can say that,” Minister Emmanuel concluded.