News that road repairs and sidewalk improvements on Front Street are soon starting (see related story) was no doubt welcomed throughout the hospitality industry. With a growing number of persons expected to flood the Philipsburg shopping area in the coming period after many months of being reduced to practically a “ghost town” because of the COVID-19 crisis, this is something that just can’t wait.
No timeline could yet be given, but it’s only going to get more crowded leading up to Christmas, with the peak in terms of visitors early next year. The work must therefore be done during the busy season, hopefully at night.
It’s very important to enhance the comfort and safety of pedestrians especially with thousands disembarking cruise ships on a given day. Given today’s World Wide Web and social media, any regrettable incident resulting from shortcomings in infrastructure and public facilities can easily spark a wave of negative publicity the destination can well do without certainly under the current socioeconomic circumstances.
One of the main problems is people parking their cars illegally, including on the sidewalks. This can be addressed with, for example, bollards on strategic locations, but also by closing at least part of the street to motorised traffic as is normally done with multiple vessels in the harbour.
Another connected issue that should be tackled before too long is the situation on the road to Pointe Blanche, with hundreds of passengers walking along Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard as trailers with huge containers and other heavy trucks rush to and from the cargo port. Despite the presence of a guardrail this creates a real potential danger, particularly when it rains and part of the footpath is flooded.
Either freight operations are moved elsewhere, or these guests need to be led to town via a different route, preferably on a seaside boardwalk past Chesterfields, Bobby’s Marina, etcetera, for which plans already exist. If not, it will unfortunately remain a very bad accident just waiting to happen.