On Sunday, December 4, 2022, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson met with a group of heavy equipment operators together with her support staff. A meeting was held after the operators raised concerns in response to a publication released by the Ministry of Justice reminding the general public of the strict enforcement of the reinstated restricted hours for heavy equipment vehicles to be on the public road per December 1, 2022. In attendance were the Chief of Police Carl John, Chief Inspector Delano Baptist, Head of Judicial Affairs Romona Ismail, and Senior Legal Policy Advisor of Judicial Affairs Geertje van Haperen.
Minister Richardson stated, “For the past 4.5 years, heavy equipment operators have been operating during the restricted hours that were relaxed by the former Minister of Justice after hurricanes Irma and Maria with the intention to do so until the island was cleared of debris. However, with the increase of complaints the Ministry has been receiving from the public concerning heavy equipment driving behavior on the public roads, I believe it was best to reinstate the restricted hours as stated in the Traffic Ordinance.”
During the meeting, operators stated that the Traffic Ordinance prior to the relaxing of the restricted hours poses an impediment to their operational ability during a time when there is still a very urgent need for reconstruction material, concrete and lumber, and general goods and services resulting in an increase of costs. Minister Richardson took the time to hear the grievances of the operators and presented them with an alternative proposal to implement a Ministerial Decree that will temporarily limit the strict enforcement of Article 60A of the Traffic Ordinance to all school zones.
Minister Richardson’s decree as per December 6, 2022, will serve as a temporarily limited implementation of one article of the Traffic Ordinance prohibiting any heavy equipment vehicle from being operated or driven on the public road in school zones to ensure the safety of not only students but all public road users. During weekdays, heavy equipment vehicles may operate on the public roads with the exception of school zones during the following hours: 6:30-8:30 AM and 12:00-2:00 PM. The school zones included in the decree consist of several streets in Philipsburg, Dutch Cul-de-Sac, St. Peters, Ebenezer, South Reward, Cay Hill, Cole Bay, Simpson Bay, Cupecoy and Belvedere. In addition, operators must adhere to all the other technical requirements in the regulation and traffic rules for heavy equipment vehicles as determined in the regulation.
“The concerns of the public have been heard and hence the reason the law has been restored. At the same time, I understand the challenge the operators and other affiliates are subjected to with the restricted hours. The decree is of a temporary nature and will be evaluated after six months. It is quite an adjustment but we must all co-exist and this is the reason I have proposed the decree as we explore options that ensure the safety of the community at large,” stated Minister Richardson
The safety and security of all who use public roads remain an important matter for the Ministry of Justice. As such, the Police Force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) will carry out regular traffic controls to
enforce the regulations of the Traffic Ordinance and related legislation. Failure to adhere to the reinstated traffic regulations can lead to imposed sanctions.