~ Towing Policy to be established ~
The illegal parking of motorist in the capital of the island has been a long-standing issue. On Wednesday, November 17th, 2021, the Honorable Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson signed a Ministerial Decree to have traffic signs erected throughout Philipsburg. The placement of these signs is the first phase of the Ministry of Justice’s trajectory to remind motorist of traffic laws and where it is forbidden to park in places such as sidewalks.
Minister Richardson stated, “In the development of the decree, the Ministry opted to include recommendations that came in a report from the Ombudsman on November 30, 2020, regarding an investigation into the towing policy of the St. Maarten Police Force (KPSM).” Recommendations also received in the report of the Ombudsman included a Philipsburg parking policy plan, a comprehensive towing policy with checks and balances, the establishment of a parking permit policy, and the amendment of the Road Traffic Ordinance.
The traffic signs to be erected will serve as instruments in combatting parking nuisance in the Frontstreet and the Boardwalk areas. The signs will provide more clarity on the parking rules to the public and will improve enforcement activities. Experts from KPSM and the Ministry of VROMI had an essential advisory role in identifying where additional traffic signs should be placed.
Placement of the signs is one of the steps taken by a joint working group that was put in place by the Ministry of Justice in order to address the long-lasting parking problems in Philipsburg. The working group consists of representatives of the Ministries of Justice, VROMI, and TEATT. Combined efforts such as improved enforcement modalities by the Ministry of Justice, infrastructure developments by the Ministry of VROMI, and the implementation of a parking permit policy by the Ministry of TEATT must lead to improved public road safety.
As the successful enforcement of parking violations requires more modalities than imposing fines, the Ministry of Justice will soon initiate a public tender to contract a reliable towing company. According to the law, vehicles can be towed if they are hindering traffic or when they are left on the public road for more than 48 hours in a non-drivable state. As demonstrated by negative experiences in the past, the outsourcing of towing activities should be done properly and carefully. The Honorable Minister of Justice will ensure transparency by pursuing a public tender procedure and by publishing a towing policy. Such a towing policy will provide the necessary clarity about procedures and fees to the public.
“In addressing this issue, the Ministry of Justice will also establishment a phone number or online form where the public will be encouraged to alert KPSM of grave parking violations in a bid to improve enforcement. The Ministry of Justice also intends to amend the law to introduce the legal possibility
of applying wheel clamps. As such, government will continue to implement measures that contribute to realizing a safe and attractive city center for residents, business owners as well as tourists,” concluded Minister Richardson.
The Ombudsman received a letter from the Honorable Minister of Justice in which an extensive update on the parking and towing policy were provided on Friday, November 19.