Cement supplier Caricement/Holcim, now operating in Simpson Bay, St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, will be opening a cement bagging facility in Pointe Blanche on the property of St. Maarten Cargo Facility NV. The company signed a lease agreement on Friday, according to a press statement. “The agreement signals the start of long-waited plans to move the cement plant from an outdated facility in Simpson Bay to a new environmentally controlled plant in the harbour’s cargo area, St. Maarten Harbour Holding Company and St. Maarten Cargo Facility Managing Director Mark Mingo said. The facility will be based on successfully operated cement-bagging plants in St. Thomas and the Dominican Republic, where strict laws ensure the proper control of cement dust and other health and safety factors within a housed environment, Mingo said.
“The St. Thomas plant is in the middle of the harbour facility where it has operated without impacting on the success of the cruise and port operations, so we are confident a similar plant will also be well received in our own cargo area.” Under the lease agreement, the harbour will be responsible for preparing the site for the new facility while the company will be making the investment for the building and other facilities to accommodate the loading and unloading of cement supplies on barges.
Windward Roads is the main contractor for excavation work on the US $1.7 million project. Several subcontracts will ensure substantial work for St. Maarten’s heavy equipment workers, he added. The excavation work will commence shortly. Construction on the building will start four weeks after the site is prepared. “The project will increase revenues for the harbour and it will be located well enough under the mountain not to affect the operations of the cargo facility or to in any way impair the look of our beautiful cruise and cargo facility.”
Caricement/Holcim Financial Director Jaun Ochoa said the project would not only bring construction work to the island and revenue to the harbour, but would also give St. Maarten a modern facility that will serve not only the island’s construction needs, but also the needs of surrounding islands as a supply hub.
Harbour Affairs Commissioner Theo Heyliger fully endorsed the project. After reviewing the proposed construction site with the parties involved on Friday, he said the relocation of the Simpson Bay cement plant would be welcomed by residents in the area who had been complaining about the environmental nuisance of the cement plant for many years.
“The present site is outdated and has become something of an eyesore in the Simpson Bay area. It has also caused negative comments from visitors touring the island and from residents in the area, so this move is long overdue.” In the press statement, Heyliger assured the public that guarantees were being put in place to ensure that the managers of the facility would comply with their promise to build a modern facility with dust collecting filters and high-tech bagging equipment. Caricement/Holcim is managed locally by Caricement/Intertwine N.V., whose Managing Director is Hans Pfennings.