PHILIPSBURG/SIMPSON BAY—Market vendors in Philipsburg and Simpson Bay breathed a sigh of relief as they learnt from Tourism Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson that plans were being finalised to erect modern facilities to replace those in Philipsburg that were destroyed by hurricanes and improve the situation at the Kim Shaw Beach in Simpson Bay.
Minister Johnson who is responsible for Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) visited both marketplaces in Simpson Bay and in Philipsburg on Wednesday morning along with his colleague minister Miklos Giterson to “get first-hand information from the vendors as to their thoughts for the new facility and understand what grievances or concerns they presently have.”
Johnson said, “I watch you from my window every day packing your products and it hurts my heart to see you having to go through this, and this cannot continue for much longer as we have to find a real solution.”
The Simpson Bay and Philipsburg Marketplace Project is a priority for the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition and the Ministry of TEATT as well as the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) which Minister Giterson has full responsibility for.
The ministers also handed out artists impressions of the proposed new structures. The drawings also included two options for the road between the New Testament Baptiste Church and the Marketplace. One option is to make the existing road a one-way lane and widen the marketplace and the other is to create two one way lanes in opposite directions on both sides of the Market Place.
Based on the new designs, the vendors would no longer have to go through the process of packing and unpacking their goods daily as they would be able to remain in the new secure outlets. The Market Vendors who were on hand to speak to the ministers cheered and expressed their excitement at the news as this was mentioned.
In the Simpson Bay area, the Minister met with five of the eight vendors and explained that the intention is to build a permanent structure complete with water and electricity. The parking will be appropriately regulated, and the bathroom facility will be improved.
According to Minister Johnson, “While we wanted to tell them about our plans, and we were also interested in getting their feedback. This is important since they are the ones who are operating at the Market Place and therefore they should be given an opportunity to contribute to the plans for improvement.”
The Simpson Bay market vendors were told about the need to ensure that they adhere to the necessary regulations. The ministers encouraged the Market Vendors to pay attention to the volume when playing music, so it does not affect other businesses in the surrounding area. The vendors mentioned some concerns such as limited light in the parking area at night and water drainage issues, which Minister Giterson promised to look into. The plan is to relocate the vendors during the construction process to temporary locations still to be identified.