~ And enforce curfew ~
PHILIPSBURG–Answers to the burning question on who placed containers at the border between Dutch St. Maarten and French St. Martin shortly after Hurricane Irma in September, was provided during a parliamentary meeting last week.
General Affairs Minister Prime Minister William Marlin told Members of Parliament (MPs) that the placing of containers at the border in Bellevue was an operational decision made by the local police force based on a plan of approach on efficiency and use of its work force. He said also that based on criminal information, it was learnt that a large number of stolen vehicles from Dutch St. Maarten were being transported to French St. Martin. “It was the intention to create a more effective control and to avoid the stolen vehicles crossing the border,” Marlin told MPs.
He said also that the French government had taken a decision to allow only French residents with a French passport to cross the border and return to French St. Martin. “When we, the government was made aware of this, we gave the same instructions for the entrance of non-Dutch passport holders. Afterwards, there was a meeting with the government of the French side during which agreements were made amongst others on the mentioned instructions and the curfew.”
He said “No instructions were given to close the border. A curfew was in place and instructions were given to have the checkpoints at the borders to enforce the curfew as was also done by French authorities.”
Marlin said he had instructed Justice Minister Rafael Boasman to remove the containers, who subsequently instructed the police to do so. “It was later announced in a meeting of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that all borders had been re-opened.”
Marlin assured that at all times the Bellevue border was open to emergency traffic as there had been a curfew in place and only emergency traffic had been allowed to be on the roads.