ST. MAARTEN’S (IN)JUSTICE CHRONICLES… part 1

887

 

St. Maarten doesn’t do its title ‘The Friendly Island’ justice and St. Maarten’s government
doesn’t do its people justice.

I am sure we all know what a government is supposed to represent, but here’s a reminder:
A government is an institution through which leaders exercise power to make and enforce laws. A government’s basic functions are providing leadership, maintaining order, providing public services, providing national security, providing economic security, and providing economic assistance.

HOW IS SINT MAARTEN GOVERNMENT PROVINDING SECURITY?

Let’s start with the most recent and viral activity that has been taking place.

On June 1st 2022, a business has been demolished by order of the minister of VROMI.
On April 1, 2021, the minister of VROMI signed a contract (akte van tijdelijke vergunning) with a vendor located on the airport road for a container snackbar, that is valid for five (5) years. This property is an empty lot, so no structure, no foundation, container or anything else on the property.

The vendor who rented this spot placed a container on the property around April/May of 2021, for more or less a year there was barely anything being done on the property until recently, because the vendor was still in the process of obtaining his business license.
The vendor placed a second container and build a shed around April 0f 2022 and shortly thereafter, on May 9th he received two (2) letters, a building stop and a removal order.
In the ‘building stop’ letter he has been given 20 days to request a building permit.
Which he submitted on May 12th, 2022, just a few days after he received the letter.

On Friday, May 27th, VROMI sent inspectors to the place of business and called the police to force the business to close, however, based on having their valid business license, the police were not able to do so.

The vendor received their business license from the minister of TEATT based upon the akte van tijdelijke vergunning, which was given out and signed by the minister of VROMI and the acting secretary general.

On June 1st, the minister of VROMI answered a question during the press briefing regarding this situation. He said, and I quote “Normally I really don’t like to comment on personal cases”. Why is this case personal to you minister?

He goes further to read article 7 of the building ordinance and mentions that there are currently 14 enforcement actions that have been scheduled for removal. There is repeatedly spoken by the minister of VROMI about the removal of the business, however this business was not removed, but demolished. This demolition took place on June 1st, 2022.

Then he mentions the placement of an illegal container. How did this container become
illegal? Because according to the Building Ordinance, which you can find on the government website, there is a list of seven (7) descriptions in Dutch, of the word building (gebouw). In this list there is no mentioning of a container or the description thereof, nor is the international word TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) for container used. Based on this, and the fact that the vendor has a contract, akte van tijdelijke vergunningen, this container could not have been illegal.

Then he mentioned that on May 27th, the inspection department returned to the property
indicating that a building permit request was not submitted. The minister, with his own
words, “triple, quadruple verified with the permits department” that no building permit
request was submitted. Even if it was the case that a building permit request was not
submitted on the 27th of May, the vendor had two (2) more days to do so, according to the
minister’s letter.

If the vendor did not follow, according to the permits department and the minister, request for a building permit, how come the vendor has proof that his request was received, with a stamp from government dated the 12th of May 2022, just a few days after he received his letter dated April 30th and placed on the container, received by the vendor on May 9th?

So, minister, if the inspection was keeping an eye on this specific business, why wait for the structure to be finished to demolish?

And seeing that a building permit request was submitted on time, why demolish the business? In this situation we can’t speak of a removal, it was a demolition.
(According to the Webster Dictionary: removal is to change the location, position, station or
residence, which means something is still usable, demolition is destruction)

Based on the fact that the property belongs to Simpson Bay Causeway N.V., how is the vendor going to be compensated for the rent he paid to government for this property that
does not even belong to government?

How could you, as minister,(let) a mistake like this even happen?

Are properties not being verified with Kadaster before they are being leased?

There are people waiting to get their building permit applications approved for years, yet
there was so much time available (for inspection) to have this, like you said, “personal
case” taken care of?

What is the permit department so busy with that people have to wait so long?
How long does it take to verify the documentation that people submit, have inspection visit the location and follow the rest of the procedure?

On the other hand there are foreigners and/or business people on “The Friendly Island”
Sint Maarten who get building permit applications approved in a matter of weeks or
months, but our (local) people have to wait for years.. What will you say?
You never received those requests neither?

When it comes to investing, (foreign) business people are being prioritized to get a
property, a building permit, hinderance permit, etc. Yet our minister of Justice, always
finds reasons to decline residence permit requests from business owners, foreigners who are married to foreigners and doesn’t take applications based on cohabitation anymore.

There are and have been hundreds of cases going on for months now, if not more. She
keeps losing cases and keeps walking the same path.

If ministers have (legal) advisors, why does it seem this is not taking into consideration?
Or is there (some type of) dictatorship going on? Who are we, Sint Maarten, friendly to?

Because it seems it is not to the people who are and have been here for years and generations or the people who are trying to better their lives in Sint Maarten and/or want to invest in our Island by opening a business or buying real estate.

Our people are complaining that phones are not being answered by government (so you
cannot even be transferred to the respective department) or government instances and
emails are not being replied to.

I am sure that this is not the first time any minister has heard about this and I am sure it
will not be the last time either. The question remains, when will this be addressed and
changed?

What kind of benefits do we have to offer? How heavy does the brown sack have to be
before you can get anything done in Sint Maarten?
There is so much more going on in Sint Maarten than the eyes can see and the ears can
hear..

PEOPLE OF SINT MAARTEN, especially the voters, before you know it elections are coming up, stay up to date on the ongoing situations and systems that need change, let’s
make sure it happens!

TO BE CONTINUED…..

LADY SPADE