TCI News

Political leader calls for CCTV following another arson attack in Grand Turk

#Providenciales, August 10, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – An urgent call for CCTV to be activated in Grand Turk comes now from a businessman, Member of Parliament, victim of possible arson and government minister, Edwin Astwood who on Tuesday spoke out following another devastating fire, believed to have been intentionally set in the capital of the country.

“We have been disheartened to see a number of local popular businesses and historic buildings, like the historic, iconic Victoria Public library which was destroyed by fire on March 9,2017. The Victoria Public Library was one of the most visited sites in Grand Turk, it was the home to the Tourist Board’s Island Fish Fry and it had been standing, completed in that very spot since 1889; which makes it 130 years old.”

The Minister reminded that hardworking people are being adversely impacted by the repeated fires; a spree which has for years been raging with no significant arrests as the fires continue to happen.

The latest casualty was a tour bus, described as one of the most popular for transporting Carnival Cruise Line passengers. 

Overnight Monday, the huge bus was torched and destroyed by a fire, which Minister Edwin Astwood believes was maliciously set by someone living in the close-knit island community.

“I was very upset to wake up to the news of another fire in Grand Turk, which in all accounts looks to be the act of an arsonist. Persons have work hard to build their business and properties, then this happens, some individual, or individuals, intentionally starts a fire with the aim to destroy your property or building.”

In February, a fire destroyed a restaurant and lounge owned by the Member of Parliament for Grand Turk South & Salt Cay; he and his brothers vow to rebuild their establishment.  On Tuesday there was a direct plea for help in Grand Turk.

“We all must do everything we can to put a stop to arson in our communities. I, in my official capacity of Member of Parliament for Grand Turk South & Salt Cay, and as a resident and business person in the island of Grand Turk, will be calling for the urgent implementation of the CCTV system in our communities, with a greater number of camera locations. I will also be moving for an increase in the punishment and sentencing of those individuals convicted of committing arson, said Hon. Astwood in a media statement issued to Magnetic Media.

So far, thankfully, there have been no human casualties in the apparent arson-spree; but damages are immeasurable in some cases and in others, including at the H.J. Robinson High school where an entire school block was set ablaze in 2016; the price tag was purported to be $2 million for reconstruction.

The Minister with responsibility of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services had some advice for residents;  Keep entry points to buildings secure, including sheds or garages, perimeter walls, fencing and gates; board up and secure unused or derelict buildings; prevent intruders and trespassing by making sure perimeters and buildings are well maintained and any damage is repaired as soon as possible; consider installing security systems such as CCTV, alarms and security lighting and keep any flammable substances stored safely and securely, not left in the open.

He explained that the person or people responsible for the insensitive, criminal acts are exhibiting classic signs of anti-social behaviour and the issue could be as extreme as a weapon of terror, to as devious as covering up a crime or exacting revenge or as frivolous as seeking attention because of boredom.

Currently ‘arson’ in that terminology is not on the law books in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Grand Turk still has no domestic fire unit, though one is promised for this budget year.

On Wednesday, TCI Police Commissioner Trevor Botting said CCTV installation in Grand Turk is started but Botting was unable to give a date for its completion.

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