PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — On February 5th, 2021 Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper sent a letter to the minister of Justice, the honorable Anna E. Richardson regarding Anguilla Boats entering St. Maarten. In his letter to the minister, MP Buncamper pointed that it had come to his attention that boats registered in Anguilla are picking up and dropping off passengers at pier at the Simpson Bay ferry, while boats registered in St. Maarten and other boats are prohibited by Anguillan authorities from taking passengers to Anguilla or on day trips to the uninhabited islands around Anguilla, such as Prickle Pear.
The MP asked the Minister of Justice if she was aware of this practice and if there were plans to rectify it. The Minister of Justice in her response of February 19th, to MP Buncamper outlined that the works to formulate a document to regulate such practice started in 2012 with former Minister of Justice, Roland Duncan and former Minister of Tourism, Romeo Pantophlet.
The work was finalized in December 2013 when the then Minister of Justice, Dennis Richardson and Minister of TEATT, Thadeus Richardson signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Chief Minister of Anguilla, Hubert Hughes and Minister of Home Affairs, Jerome Roberts, regulating the operations of passenger vessels transporting persons between Anguilla and St. Maarten via the Ferry Terminal in Simpson Bay.
Due to the global pandemic, the government of Anguilla implemented stringent travel restrictions and closed their ports of entry to all foreign vessels. This differed to St. Maarten’s travel restrictions after the border closure was lifted. As Anguilla has always been classified as a “low risk” country to Sint Maarten based on the COVID19 infections rate, passengers arriving from Anguilla are allowed to enter and transit Sint Maarten without need to quarantine, whereas passengers going to Anguilla must pay a sum of US$300 to US$500 to enter Anguilla and quarantine upon their arrival as well as administer 2 negative COVID19 test before being allowed to discontinue their quarantine.
Conversations are being arranged with the government of Anguilla to revisit the terms of the current arrangements and identify how both countries will benefit. This must be done in conjunction with the Ministry of General Affairs, The Ministry of TEATT and the Ministry of Justice.
MP Buncamper inquired if country St. Maarten benefits from the revenues generated from these boat trips and was informed that prior to the COVID19 pandemic the ferries that operated at the Simpson Bay pier did not pay any daily fees to SLAC, and that such payments are not regulated in the national ordinance (regulating the rate for the use of berths at the piers, wharves, moorings and mooring buoys and anchoring fees).
The Minister further explained that there is currently interest in creating a Sint Maarten/Anguilla terminal, which will result in generating income for the government of Sint Maarten.
When asked how long this practice is intended to continue, the minister responded that the government of Sint Maarten will arrange a meeting with the government of Anguilla whereby dialogue will be held to identify a new agreement beneficial to both countries.