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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.

Caribbean News

Jamaica Rum Festival Endorsed

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, endorsed this year’s fourth staging of the Jamaica Rum Festival at the Aqueduct in Rose Hall, St. James, on Saturday (June 25).

Ms. Grange, who officially opened the event, noted that rum, and spirits in general, has deep cultural significance in Jamaica, spanning centuries.

“From the cane fields, where our enslaved ancestors worked, through to today, where we have the best rum in the world… we have a lot to be proud of,” she added.

For his part, Tourism Director, Donovan White, commended the organisers of the festival, which attracted a significant number of patrons, including visitors from overseas.  He said the Ministry of Tourism, through the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), was pleased to be a partner in the event that showcased top quality products by local rum purveyors.

Minister Grange, representatives from the Tourism Ministry’s agencies, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, were presented with limited edition Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum.

 

Contact; Okoye Henry

Release: JIS

 

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Bahamas News

49th Independence Anniversary Celebrations Kick Off with National Pride Day

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#TheBahamas, June 27, 2022 – Under the theme: “Proud to Be Bahamian”, the National Independence Secretariat is set to kick off the 49th Independence Celebrations on Friday, July 1, 2022.

In its efforts to promote pride and unity throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Secretariat is encouraging a National Flag Raising Ceremony be held at all Government, and private corporate offices.

This ceremony should be staged at 9am on the Friday, simultaneously.

Bahamians are urged to wear the national colours of aquamarine, gold and black and assemble together as the National Flag is being hoisted and to sing the National Anthem, followed by a prayer.

The Secretariat is also encouraging participants to capture the event in photos and or videos, for posting on social media platforms, and inclusion in the national jubilee booklet and documentary next year.

Send images to: info@celebrate-bahamas.com

 

Photo Caption: Sienna Evans beautiful costume was created by Patrice Lockhart. Special thanks to Commonwealth Fabrics for their generous donation of the Androsia fabric used in the gown.

 

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Caribbean News

Education Ministry Recommits to Expanding Uniformed Groups in Schools

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#Jamaica, June 27, 2022 – The Ministry of Education and Youth remains committed to increasing the number of uniformed groups in schools.  This is in keeping with its thrust to fulfill this mission under the Safety and Security in Schools Programme, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, has said.  She further noted that “it is a part of our series of measures to improve discipline among students.”

Mrs. Williams was speaking during the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS) uniformed groups church service on Sunday (June 26).  The service was held at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Cross Roads, Kingston.

Mrs. Williams remarks came against the background of what she said were “heightened concerns” in recent months over incidents of violence in schools across Jamaica and calls for a more concerted effort to provide civic and character education for students.  She noted that several initiatives within the Ministry to address these concerns were being expanded, among them support for uniformed groups in schools.

“The Ministry has been supporting uniformed youth groups in the development of a Three-Year Strategic Plan and [Memoranda of Understanding] with individual groups which will, at one and the same time, advance the missions of the groups and the mandate of the Ministry to these groups,” Mrs. Williams added.

The Minister pointed out that these cohorts, including Girl Guides, Brownies, Boys Brigade, Cub Scouts, Cadets and Pathfinders, “have played an invaluable role in shaping the character and awakening the social conscience of our young people for decades.”

“It has been well-established that students who participate in clubs are more out-going as they are engaged in activities that support socialisation with their peers. These students tend to be more comfortable in group settings where communication and team-work are necessary. This is a valuable asset as it will also benefit these students outside of the school setting,” she stated.

Mrs. Williams said the activities engaged in at meetings also complement classroom learning and emphasise social, emotional, and physical development.

Additionally, she said they provide opportunities for informal learning and life experiences.

“Uniformed youth groups represent a cohort of the nation’s youth that is organised around a set of core values, such as honour, discipline, service, loyalty, commitment, integrity, perseverance, industry and spiritual fortitude,” the Minister emphasised.

She noted that while most are based in schools, units may also be organised at church and community levels.

“Indeed, we know that the church has been a main source through which many new members are recruited. There is a challenge, however, and that is, over the past few years, there has not been as robust an interest in these groups as in previous decades,” Mrs. Williams indicated.

She said it was acknowledged that the society’s youth now have many more interests and distractions, “but we should still try to encourage them to see the value in participating in groups such as these”, while citing an “urgent need” for volunteer adult leaders.

The Minister also noted that older and more traditional groups, such as Boys Scouts and Girl Guides, are international in scope and maintain linkages with the worldwide movements.

“Support from these fraternal organisations has, however, diminished over the years, and local organisations must find the resources to sustain operations and pay the required affiliation fees. So once again, it is important that we, in the local community, pitch in to provide the needed support,” she added.

In this regard, the Minister commended members of the uniformed groups and CVSS for ongoing efforts to forge long-term alliances that facilitate mutual support and joint action.

Further, she said, for representing the concerns of the social sector, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, at the regional and international levels.

“We, as a collective, continue to dedicate ourselves to creating a supportive and safe environment for our students to learn and experience as much as possible to become productive members of society,” Mrs. Williams stated.

 

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

Release: JIS

 

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