One of the things that Anguillans and other residents are looking forward to is the resumption of the regular ferryboat service to and from Marigot, St. Martin; but the Government is not yet ready for that as it continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and travel restrictions.
That matter, involving the operation of the ferry services is, however, still on hold, according to the Minister of Communications, Tourism and Acting Premier, Mr. Haydn Hughes. Speaking at the Government’s press conference on Monday, June 21, he disclosed that he had already initiated discussions about the matter with an official in St. Martin who is in charge of the Marigot Port.
“At this point we are not ready to move forward with it, even though St. Martin is ready to move forward,” Mr. Hughes told the media houses. “It [the holding back of the ferries] is based on the number of [COVID] variants, and our risk profile is still high in that, while we have 9,248 first doses, we still only have 6,282 second doses – so we have not reached herd immunity as yet. It is important that those second doses reflect into the 9,248…Once we get into herd immunity, then we can have a better chance at fighting off any of the variants and the possibility of COVID reentering our shores.”
Minister Hughes added: “We are looking into the middle of August or September for the reinstatement of the Anguilla to St Martin ferry service.”
At present, only charter boats are permitted to travel between Anguilla and Dutch St. Maarten. It is an opportunity that the other ferry operators are hoping to have on the Anguilla –French St. Martin route in due course.
Meanwhile, their ferries are sitting idly by in the inshore waters of the Blowing Point Harbour and some of the operators havew been unhappy about the situation..
Minister Hadyn Hughes commented on their plight in a Radio Anguilla Interview on Wednesday, June 23. “If it is that they are rumbling, I support them in their rumble and they have all rights to rumble,” he stated. “They have not received a dime and I am sure they have obligations – whether dock fees, loan obligations or families to feed. So you cannot be upset with the ferryboat operators if they are rumbling.”
The Minister said, among other matters, that the ferries to and from Dutch St. Maarten, have a contractual agreement with hotels. He suggested that probably the other ferryboat operators could have a discussion with the hoteliers for a regular shuttle.
Mr. Hughes also spoke about the French St. Martin route. “I have had discussions with St. Martin about reinstatement of the ferry service and they are ready when we are ready,” he said. “But I know they are going to have higher level discussions between the Governor and the Prefect in St. Martin about moving forward with that.”
He added: “At the same time, we have not gotten to the point of herd immunity where we can put in a regularly scheduled ferry. But as soon as we get to that point, immediately we will be ready to do so. If we get to that point today, the ferry business starts today. That’s a guarantee. We are ready in terms of the discussions. St. Martin is ready, but we have to also look out for the health and safety of the people of Anguilla.”