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New, stringent posture on illegal construction makes fines, personal demolition and possible deportation legal says PDM Minister, law now passed

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#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. PTS INSERT

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.

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“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.

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“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.

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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