#Providenciales, November 29, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – Grand Turk residents have a right to be irritated by any inaction of any government administration which appears to be slow going on enhancements for the island.
For one thing, it may not be the economic hub for the Turks and Caicos Islands, but it is certainly the island with the largest visitor arrival numbers, falling a little shy of one million cruisers stopping in each year.
For another, Grand Turk – also the country’s dive capital – is the only island where the main developer has invested, with the government directly into a fund, which is now holding $7 million. The Carnival Infrastructure Fund is loaded and the spending of the money has strict guidelines, chief of them being that every cent is for Grand Turk’s development and Grand Turk alone.
“When we are able to move forward with the Infrastructure Fund, because there is seven million dollars that can only be spent in Grand Turk and we intend spend as much as we possibly can to give it the urgent facelift and we have approved about three or four million in projects for exactly that.”
Premier Sharlene Robinson knows that her compatriots in Grand Turk are eager to see something happen to spruce up the Capital, and she addressed it when we spoke to her one on one on Wednesday November 28, 2018 at her office in Providenciales.
“So we want Grand Turk to understand that they are not left behind. You have a pot of money that was just sitting there and we are going to spend it for the benefit of that island.”
We wanted to know more though, including when Islanders in the Capital of the country would see the work the fund is funding. The Premier, who has two members of her Ministry of Finance team on a specially comprised committee with Carnival Cruise Line said now that a Letter of Understanding is signed nearly a dozen projects can get started… well, that is at least after the notoriously tedious procurement process is done.
“They’ve already held their initial meetings and agreed to projects and we have agreed to projects in Cabinet as well.”
Cited by the Premier and Finance Minister were: “the removing of the boat (marooned since Hurricane Sandy in 2014); the demolishing of buildings at South Base; dealing with the animals and creating a pound; looking at upkeep of buildings and improvement of parks.”
Ten projects she revealed are coming.
“So when we came into office, one of the first things we did in our commitment to Carnival to help in the infrastructure of Grand Turk in terms of repairs, was to put over $2m in the budget for roads. Believe it or not, the roads that are being done now were approved since last year March 2017, and we are now realizing them November 2018. Which speaks a lot to the system. But that was our commitment…”
The lack luster state of destination Grand Turk has drawn scathing reviews, is rumored to have cost a reduction in cruise stops and is confirmed as creating an embarrassing reputation despite Grand Turk’s natural beauties. The Premier said her team is trying to boost morale through capital works projects.
“Grand Turk roads and the areas that we are doing now, some have never seen paved roads. We have tourists who are riding all through and then you have residents who are taxpayers, just like everyone else. It is really lifting Grand Turk, and I know it created a lot of excitement, unfortunately we had some vandalism but at the end of the day it is doing what we want it to do, we want people to feel that they are a part that they are not left behind.”
Grand Turk is also viewed by the PDM Government as a captive audience for repeat visits to the territory, whether in Grand Turk or other parts of the TCI.
“We know that this site is important not just for you (Carnival) but for us because it brings almost a million tourists, we can have Grand Turk as a walking advertisement for land tourists to come back into all the islands!”
Additionally, the Premier shared that Carnival Cruise Line has agreed to donate the construction of a multi-purpose complex, outside of the Infrastructure Fund; it will be double as a community center and a shelter on the former site of the Department of Education in North Backsalina, Grand Turk.
Photo Caption: Department of Education Grand Turk relocated; future community centre