The Point Blanche prison (File photo)
PHILIPSBURG--Following the publication of an ad from United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) inviting companies to register for a February 16 workshop regarding a new prison facility in Point Blanche, Minister of Justice Anna Richardson announced on Wednesday that this is part of a market study aimed at identifying potential suppliers.
A market study will commence in February 2024 to identify potential local and international companies interested in participating in the bidding process for the construction of the new prison facility, Richardson said in a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon. “Both the Ministry of Justice and UNOPS are committed to ensuring widespread dissemination of information, enabling local companies to familiarise themselves with the UNOPS procurement process and engage in the solicitation.”
According to Richardson, this “competitive and transparent approach” will afford “equal opportunities for participation to both local and international suppliers.”
She further announced that “the comprehensive design process for the upgraded St. Maarten prison facilities is well underway,” with completion expected by May 2024, as per the project timeline.
“Last October’s successful procurement process resulted in substantial savings on the initial budgeted cost for the new prison, ensuring prudent management of public funds,” she said. “Following a meticulous selection process overseen by UNOPS, CSI engineers from Uruguay has been entrusted with the contract to design the phased construction of the new Point Blanche prison and House of Detention facilities.”
Having been briefed on the conceptual architectural design of the so-called “St. Maarten Rule of Law Facilities project”, Richardson expressed enthusiasm for the forthcoming construction. “The enhanced features encompass various crucial amenities, including a pre-trial ward, improved male and female wards, educational facilities, health consultation rooms, dental facilities, psychologists, recreational areas, staff facilities and heightened security measures featuring panoramic and static cameras,” she said.
She emphasised the paramount importance of safety and affirmed that the new prison project will elevate St. Maarten's detention facilities to the highest regional standards while effectively addressing local needs.
In tandem with the project's advancement, UNOPS is gearing up to launch the bidding process for the construction of the new facilities around mid-2024.
The design of Rule of Law Facilities is financed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations of the Government of the Netherlands, with a budget of approximately US $4 million.
“The project's first phase, commenced in the first quarter of 2023, is progressing as scheduled and is expected to span 20 months in total,” Richardson said. “The subsequent phase will involve the construction of the new infrastructure.”
Martín Arévalo, Director of the UNOPS Office for Costa Rica and the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, underscored UNOPS' commitment to developing secure and humane correctional infrastructure, incorporating social, gender and diversity perspectives into the prison design to accommodate the specific needs of different societal groups, including women and youth.
A robust criminal justice system is essential for upholding human rights, legal certainty and good governance, Richardson said. According to her, UNOPS, as a specialised UN agency, will ensure transparent and efficient public spending practices to maximise the project's impact and value.