Published On: Tue, Jun 11th, 2019

FIOD investigates tender process Causeway bridge

Causeway Bridge - Photo WWR

SIMPSON BAY — The fiscal investigative unit of the Dutch tax office, the FIOD, is conducting an investigation into the tender process for the construction of the Causeway bridge on St. Maarten. Investigation is carried out into two subsidiaries of Volker Wessels Stevin, VCI (Volker Construction International) and VSC (Volker Stevin Caribbean). These subsidiaries have since ceased operations. This report was published on May 29, 2018, on a Dutch tender news website called AanbestedingsNieuws.nl.

The Public Prosecuter’s Office in The Netherlands has confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation whether bribes have been paid for obtaining and executing construction projects on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

In 2013, the Causeway Swing Bridge was shipped from a Dutch shipyard to St. Maarten. The swing bridge, weighing 450 tons, has a total length of 700 meters and includes two drive lanes, a cycling path and foot paths. The bridge connects the airport road with the area around Port de Plaisance that is separated by the lagoon. The bridge runs parallel to the border between St. Maarten and the French part of the island, Saint Martin.

bridge 4 still to be named now

In 2012, the contract was awarded by the Port Authority of St. Maarten. VCI was responsible for the design and construction commissioned by Simpson Bay Causeway NV, VWS reported. The bridge was funded by Simpson Bay Causeway N.V. through the issue of debt paper. The government had issued a building permit for the construction of the bridge. The Causeway N.V. is part of St. Maarten Harbor Finance N.V. which falls under Sint Maarten Holding, of which Country St. Maarten is the sole shareholder. This construction is apparent from a 2015 ruling by the Court of First Instance of the Dutch Antilles. Quite remarkably, that statement also states that the government had no influence on the bridge’s decision. The Court finds that incomprehensible:

It can be admitted by the Country [St. Maarten, ed.] that no government decision can be identified in which the construction of the bridge was decided. However, as a 100% indirect shareholder in Simpson Bay Causeway N.V., it can be deemed to have taken such a decision. After all, it is inconceivable that a subsidiary will decide on its own initiative to build such a bridge without Country as its shareholder and owner of the land and the water on which that bridge is to be built not having taken any decision in this regard.

Read further: How the causeway suddenly became ten percent more expensive