Editorial: Point of departure

An interesting issue came up again in today’s story on recent road controls by Public Transportation Inspectors of the Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Ministry. A bus driver was stopped at the causeway in Cole Bay, as he did not have Dutch citizenship and consequently can’t operate on the French side.

It also was stated that this is clearly indicated among the conditions in his licence. The latter can thus be withdrawn in case of violations.

The policy is obviously based on the fact that the Northern part of the island is an integral part of the Republic of France and the European Union (EU). National and European regulations are consequently in full force there.

But is this really in keeping with the Treaty of Concordia that calls for free movement of people and goods? If, for instance, someone in Grand Case needs a service which only a company on the Dutch side provides, can’t they make use of such?

Every year on November 11 officials and dignitaries from both sides gather to celebrate centuries of peaceful co-existence with open borders and the notion that it’s considered one community. It’s been said before; maintaining this special relationship in today’s fast-changing world takes effort.

When the Government of St. Maarten qualifies a person for a certain job, shouldn’t his or her status as such in principle be equal to that of his/her colleagues regardless of nationality? After all, someone is either a legal resident allowed to work or not.

It must be kept in mind as well that both the airport and harbour where the bulk of visitors come in are located on the Dutch side. For example, restricting access there for French-side taxi drivers except payment of the same uniform usage fee would surely not be appreciated.

Mind you, finding practical solutions to these thorny problems is far from easy for local authorities. Still, the spirit behind the Treaty of Concordia must guide them and remain the point of departure.
Source: Daily Herald
Point of departure