Published On: Tue, Jun 16th, 2020

MP Heyliger-Marten tells Government “Put our local heavy equipment to work first”

Grisha Heyliger-Marten - Heavy Equipment at Airport

PHILIPSBURG— Faction Leader for the United People’s Party in Parliament of St. Maarten, the honourable Grisha Heyliger-Marten, is demanding that government “put our local contractors and companies to work first.”

In a press release issued Tuesday by MP Heyliger-Marten she asked whether the mistakes of the past would repeat themselves where foreign contractors are allowed to bring their own heavy equipment to the island despite many local companies owning the same types of machines.

“I am calling on the Ministers of Government responsible for these projects to ensure that this time around the people of St. Maarten are protected. Contractors who have the equipment to do the work on these projects must be selected first.”

She used the crane used on the roof repairs for Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) post-hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017 that was imported by an outside contractor as an example. “It is still sitting outside the airport arrival hall and it would be interesting to know if the company is paying rental fees to the airport for remaining there,” said Heyliger-Marten.

MP Heyliger-Marten intends to send a list of questions to the relevant Government Ministers seeking clarity on the existence of a Crane that is parked outside the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), Arrival Hall. Amongst the questions the MP will pose are “why is this crane here? Who owns this crane? Are they paying rent to store it at the Airport? Why wasn’t a local crane used? Was a local crane company even asked?

She said, “Our people have the equipment and skills to do the work and should not be overlooked.” The MP also intends to seek clarity on Government’s policy on protecting the local workforce in general. Of particular and urgent interest is the Government’s policy as it pertains to protecting local construction companies and ensuring they get first preference in projects such as the second and third phase reconstruction of the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and the construction of the New Medical Centre in Cay Hill. “The airport and hospital are locally owned companies that receive substantial revenues from Government and should respect our locals. Put OUR people and OUR companies to work first before going abroad.”

“My husband, and Former Member of Parliament Theodore Heyliger, fought for years to protect the local entrepreneurs and contractors who invested their hard-earned money in purchasing heavy equipment were protected. And today I am standing with them, and I encourage them as local contractors to get together and demand that they get work first, especially in these projects.”

Heyliger-Marten, who believes strongly in protecting residents and empowering them, recently visited the Airport to see the first set of heavy equipment sent to the job site and has been here for over 20-months. “As a Member of Parliament elected by the people of St. Maarten, I cannot stand by and watch as our people get overlooked. These local business owners invested their hard-earned money in building their companies. They pay taxes here and yet when there is a major opportunity for them to reap the rewards; they are refused the opportunity to earn a living.”