#FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — The government is taking progressive steps to address the poor road conditions on the new overpass bridge and on the service road at the Fishing Hole Road that leads from Freeport into West Grand Bahama.During a press conference at the bridge on Saturday, February 15, 2020 Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson called the work being carried out on the service road and the bridge “the beginning of the end of the process.”
“What has happened is that this bridge was finished before the storm in 2019,” explained Minister Thompson. “Unfortunately, the storm destroyed the ramps to this bridge. Today, we can definitively say that work has begun to complete the process.
“We know that the public has been very agitated to having this bridge completed, so we wanted to make it a point to come back to the public and ask them to be patient for a few more weeks, but work is being done now to bring some resolution and some relief for the people of Grand Bahama.”
Work crews were out at the bridge on Saturday morning working on the service road, in preparation for use on Monday morning. Once the service road was ready over the weekend, the bridge was closed off, so that work on the repair of the road could begin.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest said that the problems at the bridge and on the service road had been a source of angst and inconvenience for West Grand Bahama in particular and for Grand Bahama on the whole during the periods when the bridge becomes inaccessible, therefore a hindrance for people to get to work.
“We are very pleased to have reached at this point where we have a design and the contractors are on site to being this final phase,” said Minister Turnquest.
“We appreciate the patience of the Grand Bahama public as we go through the process of trying to find the correct solution. We have other capital works in Grand Bahama that need to be focused on and completed, so we want to make sure that this project is completed properly so that we won’t have to come back to this.
“As I’ve said before, the Government of The Bahamas is committed to Grand Bahama. We are not going to leave Grand Bahama behind, and we will do what needs to be done to ensure that the services and the conveniences that the Grand Bahama public deserves are delivered as soon as possible.”
Wolfgang Geiger President of ABC Construction in Freeport, Grand Bahama, and General Contractors for the bridge at Fishing Hole Road, told the media that the bridge was completed and set to officially open on September 21, 2019. However, Category 5 Hurricane Dorian destroyed both ramps on both sides of the bridge. Storm surge removed most of the asphalt on the new bridge.
“All of the studies from scientists they never predicted 23 foot storm surge in this area,” said Geiger. “The highest was 10 or 11 feet. The bridge is 12 feet high, so theoretically, we shouldn’t have this situation, but nobody predicted the kind of storm we had in September 2019.”
According to Geiger, it would take about six to eight weeks for the repairs on the bridge to be completed and reopened.
Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness Management and Reconstruction, Iram Lewis, says that one of the long term goals of the Minnis Administration in such capital projects is to build resilience, particularly following Hurricane Dorian, and one of the ways to do that is to consider risk identification. He added that once risk has been identified, everything is done to reduce that risk.
“One of the risks we identified, especially for this structure was that washout was a reality,” explained Minister Lewis. “In order to mitigate against that and to reduce that risk and build resilience, the decision is to replace the asphalt approach ramp with reinforced concrete. That should stand up under much more stringent conditions that asphalt.
“The design had been completed by the Ministry of Works. A change order has been issued to the contractor. So work has begun.”
According to Mr. Lewis, Cabinet has approved $1M for the repairs to the ramp.
Commander Defence Force attends UK-Second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Conference, Antigua
#Bahamas, September 13, 2021 – In keeping with the Global Security Collaborative Framework and Commander Defence Force, Commodore Dr. Raymond King’s strategic intent in strengthening joint relationships with its regional and international partnerships, Commodore King attended the UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua from 1- 3 September, 2021 to share best practices and to discuss matters of mutual interest.
Accompanied by his Aide, Sub Lieutenant Delroy Dennis, the sessions also included General Sir Nick Carter; Gen Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant Colonel Simon Westlake Royal Marines United Kingdom’s Defence Attaché to the Caribbean; and Commander Brian Trim MBE RN Commander task Group.
Also in attendance were countries with various Chiefs of Defence Staff, in particular; Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and defence and security partners across the region, who took part virtually, and shared their views on global security and joint partnerships. They all agreed on several initiatives with training and education designed to improve collective capacity to deal with the diverse security challenges that confront the region.
The inaugural conference convened virtually in November 2020, with each of the regional Chiefs of Defence. This second conference focused on building on the success of the virtual event in strengthening the UK-Caribbean relationships, and developing concepts for UK engagement with its Caribbean partners on issues of mutual interest.
The three-day conference commenced with an ice-breaker reception and concert at Blizzard Camp, hosted by Antigua and Barbuda (ATG) – Chief of Defence Staff Colonel Telbert Benjamin, and joined by the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams. The core conference which took place on September 2nd, began with an opening ceremony, supported by the Prime Minister of ATG, Sir Gaston Browne.
In the first core session, UK- Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland General Sir Nick Carter set out the UK perspective on the strategic context, informed by the recently concluded Integrated Review (IR) and Defence Command Plan (DCP). The three individual sessions covered issues of serious organized crime threats; regional initiatives and the implications for UK Defence engagement; and natural threats.
The UK- CDS expressed his ambition to use the conference as a vehicle for institutional capacity building, military capability development, training and education, doctrine, and concepts. These are ways to maximize collective security development with focused UK engagement while better constructing an approach that matches the region’s aspirations and requirements.
The final session of the three-day conference was held aboard HMS MEDWAY, River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel built on the Clyde. This permanent Caribbean patrol ship was deployed to the Caribbean to support disaster relief and conduct counter-trafficking operations as an alternative setting for a maritime security focused discussion. It served as a setting to discuss regional maritime security, which included talks around preparedness for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Response (HADR), and UK involvement in regional partnerships.
Header: Participants at the UK- second Caribbean Chief of Defence Staff (CHoDs’) in Antigua, 1- 3 September, 2021.
1st insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Defence Force, presenting his country’s brief on board HMS MEDWAY, during the second Caribbean Chiefs of Defence Staff conference in Antigua.
2nd insert: Commodore Raymond King, Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces: In the front row; Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force and General Sir Nick Carter, General Chief of Defence Staff, United Kingdom of Great Britain, and Northern Ireland.
3rd insert: Commodore Raymond King, the Commander Royal Bahamas Defence Force; Brigadier General Steven Andrew Ortega, Commander Belize Defence Force; General de Brigada Angel A Camacho Ubiera Inspector General of the Dominican Republic Army; Antigua and Barbuda – Colonel Telbert Benjamin, Commander of Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force; Major General C S Collins, General Officer Commanding 1st UK Division; Lieutenant General Rocky R Meade, Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force; Brigadier Godfrey Bess Chief of Staff, Guyana Defence Force; Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces Trinidad and Tobago; and Air Vice Marshal Darryl Daniel Chief of Defence Staff, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Forces.
(Photos courtesy Mr. Wayne Mariette)
Caribbean Wellness Day 2021
#Caribbean, September 13, 2021 – Health, in every facet, is sought-after, at great expense, by all members of the global community. Though the success of our endeavours in health varies from region to region, it must be emphasised that in our Region, a healthy Caribbean is always the goal for which we strive.
Each year the Caribbean Region observes, Caribbean Wellness Day since it was established at the 2007 landmark summit, ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases.’
This year’s commemoration focuses on equitable access to health; an all of society approach to health and well-being, and building healthy communities under the theme, “Power Through Collective Action: In it Together, Building Healthy Communities.”
As health care systems are being taxed by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is even more important now to advocate for equitable access to health. Too many of our Caribbean citizens face harsh realities, because of inequities in access – this should not be. Caribbean Wellness Day is the most opportune time for the members of our Caribbean community to ensure that the health of our people is indeed a priority through legislative change, health in all policies and all of society action.
Equitable access to health care in the Caribbean is one of CARPHA’s points of focus as can be seen through our work to ensure equitable access to PPE, equipment, supplies and vaccines through the COVAX facility, a mechanism whose primary function is to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and donations notably the US Government donation of 5.5 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech.
Without the power of voices in chorus, like with the COVAX facility; the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) and others – many more would be disadvantaged and unserved. Achieving health for all in the Caribbean also means attaining and sustaining healthy environments.
The built environment, which provides for sidewalks, bike lanes, community parks and green spaces, can influence lifestyles, body weight, and improve mental health. As these necessary frameworks are made reality and we avail ourselves of them, we exercise Power through Collective Action showing that we are truly in it together, Building Healthy Communities.
As we speak about the environment, we must mention the effects of climate change. The inaction in the past has set the world on a course of environmental destruction. We need to act now; it is the only way that we can protect the generations to come from even worse realities than those we face today.
As we seek to mitigate the damage done due to inaction on the recommended major climate change interventions, we need to address other pertinent issues. Vector-borne diseases remain a challenge in many Caribbean territories, and unlike the bleak outlook that is presented on climate change, simple adjustments in our behaviour can make the world of difference.
By eradicating breeding grounds of mosquitoes in our immediate environment and communities, we minimize the spread of many vector-borne diseases. Advocacy in health should be the standard operation of every Region, State, and organisation. Sustaining Health and well-being is one of the very few universal desires.
Regardless of creed, culture, or any other divisive line – all organised bodies have a responsibility to promote health. Further to this, we need to take the time to look after ourselves and our families and communities.
Simple actions – increasing our intake of local produce, reading labels of processed foods to make informed decisions, scheduling regular exercise – these actions will drastically improve the health and quality of life of our people.
Working together to this end, will lead to healthier minds, healthier bodies, and a Caribbean that exudes wellness.
US new Vaccine mandate not for tourists and students
#TurksandCaicos, September 9, 2021 – The vast majority of visa applicants such as students and tourists do not have to worry about the new CDC requirement for Immigrant Visa applicants to be fully vaccinated.
Our news organization reached out to the US Embassy in Nassau, where Public Affairs Officer Daniel Durazo informed the notice floating around social media is true but only impacts people who are applying to live and work in the United States.
“The information circulating on social media is a notice stating that starting on October 1 the CDC will require age-appropriate Immigrant Visa applicants worldwide will to show evidence of COVID-19 vaccination.
The key detail here is the difference between Non-Immigrant Visas and Immigrant Visas. Non-Immigrant Visas (for which the requirement does not apply) make up the majority of visa applications, and include student and tourist visas. Immigrant Visas on the other hand typically involve moving permanently to the United States through a Green Card, for example, and which make up a very small fraction of visa applications,” said Durazo.
Similar to TCIs work permit holders rule, which requires guest workers to be fully vaccinated in order to be legally in the Turks and Caicos, this rule takes effect for the US on October 1st.
The notice caused quite a buzz, as the United States is a popular destination for islanders to visit and attend school. The US is also the #1 tourism source market for the Turks and Caicos; and only its vaccinated residents will be allowed into these islands; that mandate started on September 1st.
“First, I’d like to reassure your readers that the vaccination requirement will not apply to the vast majority of Visa applicants, such as those applying for tourist and student visas. In summary, the vast majority of visa applicants (such as students and tourists) do not have to worry about this requirement. It’s only Immigrant Visa applicants who need to take this requirement into consideration, and they will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.”
Residents suspected the US was activating a similar entry requirement but Durazo said the rule does not apply to visitor and student visas. Permanent residency applicants, like those wanting Green Card will need to have full Covid 19 vaccination and he said, will receive instructions and clarification from the consular section as appropriate when they apply.
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