New, stringent posture on illegal construction makes fines, personal demolition and possible deportation legal says PDM Minister, law now passed
#GrandTurk, Turks and Caicos Islands – February 19, 2018 – Shanty construction will be a thing of the past in the Turks and Caicos Islands once the legislation recently passed in the House of Assembly gets to flex its muscles and lift the country to more resilient buildings.
The tone resonated on all sides of the House of Assembly at the start of the month, as Minister of Infrastructure, Housing and Planning, Goldray Ewing got his amendments passed for a tougher policy stance on unlawful construction. The Minister said it is in the name of taking country laws more seriously.
The Minister explained that he is prepared to lose the votes, lose the popularity and will not run interference with the way the law is meant to play out. His advice to those building without Physical Planning Department approvals was firm and unmistakably clear.
“I am warming persons in the Turks and Caicos who are breaking the planning laws and regulations to stop. lf you built your house last night, without planning permission, my friend, tonight you should break ‘em down. If the nail is halfway in, don’t send another lick on it, pull it out instead. Mr. Speaker we have to get serious about enforcing the laws in our country.”
For decades the country has watched government administrations offer tough talk on making the changes required to put an end to shanty towns which are prolific throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands. Now, the law has teeth with an undergirded element of enforcement which has seen more inspectors and development officers added to the Department this month.
“Mr. Speaker I have brought this because I know it is one of the major issues affecting this country and I will not pass the buck to the next government. What we have to do today, we will do it today. I will not kick the can down the street. People might say they hate me, people might say they are not going to vote for me the next election, well Mr. Speaker, I don’t care, if you are not going to vote for me because of this, then Mr. Speaker I don’t need their vote.”
Hurricanes Irma and Maria offered to the country an opportunity, Minister Ewing had expressed to Magnetic Media in a previous interview. Hon Ewing believes the reconstruction which is now necessary after 80% of buildings were damaged in the pair of September 2017 storms will enable his team to eradicate bad building through a new fine system, which demands proper oversight by the Physical Planning team.
“I am saying from now, my hands are off this. I will not interfere with Planning (Department) activity. They have my blessings to carry out the law.”
The Minister, during his wrapping up on February 5, 2018 in the House of Assembly said the plan is not to bog down the courts with complaints and civil cases, but to offer a stern solution to discourage illegal building in an effort to also ensure more stringent and safe construction codes.
“Persons don’t have to go to court and be prosecuted. If they are given a notice or a ticket, go and pay the fine – break down and clean up. It is as simple as that.”
The amendment to the Planning Ordinance will not only introduce a system where unauthorized constructions will be ticketed, similar to the road traffic system, but it will support migrant laws.
“I will be pulling on Section 10 of the Immigration Status Ordinance and Section 18 of the PRC (Permanent Residency Certificate) Status Ordinance to make sure I deter folks from building without permission. Because if they don’t break it down, they will be prosecuted in a court of law and if they be found guilty, they can very well get their status revoked and get deported out of this country. I will be calling on Immigration to step up their efforts once someone goes to court under Planning Ordinance to follow through for me… we will have to be serious in our approach and consistent in our approach.”
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it was strongly recommended by organizations like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA that the Turks and Caicos use the reconstruction period to improve building codes and standards; structures ought now able to withstand winds of 200 mph or more.
The Turks and Caicos previously built for winds of around 140 mph, according to reports to Magnetic Media.
CIBC FirstCaribbean TODAY shuts another TCI branch, CONFIRMED
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, April, 2023 – The Turks and Caicos will be losing yet another banking branch following confirmation of reports that CIBC FirstCaribbean bank in Grace Bay will be shut down on Friday March 31st.
CIBC representatives confirmed the shutdown to MM Thursday March 30th. Employees at the Leeward Highway branch moved over to the Grace Bay branch in January to allow for necessary upgrades and expansions to infrastructure. That shift lasted for four months and employees were scheduled to move back to Leeward Highway in early April. No mention of a closure to the Grace Bay branch was made in the January 12 press release that detailed the upgrades.
Citing those upgrades, which are now complete, Managing Director of the Bahamas Operating Company, responsible also for TCI, Dr. Jacqui Bend said, “CIBC FirstCaribbean is continuing to work on a number of initiatives aimed at improving the processes and technologies that our teams use to support our clients and employees alike. We have committed further investments in simplification, automation, and security across our bank and, as always, our clients will be the beneficiaries of this renewed effort,
It’s a repeat of the firm’s new mantra focused on self-service and digitization that has seen the local presence of the country’s oldest bank diminish more and more.
CIBC defends the decision explaining that retail client services had already been ceased at that Grace Bay branch and the closure of it earlier this year, while expansion Leeward Highway’s location was designed to ‘reconfigure and improve’ their network for the future.
“While there may be a few teething issues being encountered while our teams and clients adjust to their new surroundings, our teams are working with an ‘all hands on deck approach’ to expedite service to our clients,” she said in the statement shared with Magnetic Media.
The shifts to more digitized services eliminates the in person experience and residents have voiced discontent with the strategy. Earlier this year CIBC First Caribbean indicated they would pare down services and the in branch experience at their Grand Turk location.
It left Grand Turk with no banks within which they could enter to get that ‘human touch’. While there was outrage, Government remained silent.
Since January 3rd, customers of the bank have had to shift to the digital approach which now requires smaller cash deposits and smaller cash withdrawals to be made via ABMs, which are more state of the art and it also means applying for many of the banking features online.
Three days, two matches, two wins for Natl Men’s Football
#TurksandCaicos, March 31, 2023 – Belief in themselves and an inspiring new coach has caused a dramatic shift in the Turks and Caicos National Men’s Football team according to captain Billy Forbes; the TCI National Men’s Football team secured two impressive back-to-back wins.
“The guys are buying in now, having a coach that they can look up to, who has played professionally before– it’s really amazing,” he explained. “For me, I’m really proud of the guys because three or four years ago that would have been us losing the game probably like 6-0, something like that. For us to go down 1-0 and come back and win it- I think that was fantastic, you can’t really ask for much more.”
He was speaking to the press after a March 28th match against Bonaire. The team is on a winning streak following back-to-back victories over the US Virgin Islands and Bonaire in the Concacaf Nations League. The most recent match with Bonaire almost looked like a miss just one minute in- but as Forbes said they pulled it together. Coach Hayden Mullins, former Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, and National English Footballer detailed the nail-biting match.
“I thought we started slow; we gave a goal away in the first minute,” he said. “The pleasing thing for me is we went from one nil down to 2-1 up at halftime. We had something to build on. Full assessment? The game had everything, we had a red card; we missed a penalty; we went goal down; but the resolve and the character from the guys was perfect. It’s exactly what we’re looking for.”
Sebastian Turbyfield (# 1 goalkeeper), concurred with his captain and coach. Turbeyfield performed quite a few gymnastic feats to keep TCI in the running throughout the match. He described his teammates as having a completely different resolve and promised they would only be getting better from here.
Mullings said the team is one that the country can be proud of and ‘could definitely get out of league C.”
The men returned to the country on March 29th.
Earth Day celebrations
#TurksandCaicos, March 31, 2023 – Earth Day is coming up on April 22, 2023, and the Department of Environment and Coastal resources is hosting a poetry competition for TCI youth to mark the event.
Students of all ages are encouraged to write a sonnet to celebrate the TCI’s natural beauty; the winning poem will be published in the Times of the Island Magazine.
The deadline for poems to be submitted is April 30, 2023, and students should submit their poem via email to email@example.com or in person to any DECR office. Entries must include the student’s name, age and school.
The department promises that there are prizes to be won for the top poets.
April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement 53 years ago and helps demonstrate support for environmental protection. The theme for this year is “Invest In Our Planet.”
This year‘s theme follows years of missed climate action goals by governments globally, including poor climate financing. The Turks and Caicos and other small island developing states are particularly at risk environmentally because of the growing threat of climate change.
Currently the country is working through the Environmental Health Department DECR, Fisheries Department, and more to create sustainable fishing, farming, and marine practices that will benefit the country economically, but also protect its natural flora and fauna.
Projects include sargassum research, coral nurseries to rebuild the country’s coral reef, farming in schools, marine spatial planning to create an effective plan for the use of marine resources, participation in the UK Blue Belt program to protect local marine life, and much more.
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