TCI solid waste and coastal protection projects with CDB stalled due to lack of capacity
#Barbados, February 17, 2020 — Three TCI approved projects employing the technical assistance of the Caribbean Development Bank are in limbo due to a lack of available expertise within the Turks and Caicos Islands, explained the CBD director at its Annual Press Conference held on February 11 in Barbados.
Daniel Best, Director of Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank revealed that efforts are being considered at CDB to help countries through the stagnating challenge of limited human resources, which adversely affect implementation and completion of critical projects.
“We have within our member countries, unfortunately, some capacity issues and it is not limited to TCI, this is across the board. One of the things we are doing as a bank is seeking how we can be more responsive to not just the infrastructure or social needs but to the capacity needs,” said Mr. Best.
Magnetic Media quizzed Mr. Best about progress on two of the three projects; the first, the Coastal Protection and Management Technical Assistance which has been approved since 2016. While it is the most advanced, progress is slow going for the construction of vital sea defences.
“All of the capital projects funded by the Caribbean Development Bank undergo a climate vulnerability assessment and climate risk screening, so this project would be one, when it gets to the capital projects stage… (it) would be one that incorporates climate action. We are continuing the dialogue to drive this particular intervention and others forward, so we really hope to see some traction on that in this calendar year,” said Best.
In July 2017, the Premier and Finance Minister, Sharlene Robinson informed the House of Assembly: “Mr. Speaker that the Government is advancing is the loan assistance related to Climate Resilient Coastal Protection and Management that we had hoped would have been before us today for debate. This technical assistance will focus on a feasibility study and prepare designs for coastal protection works on the islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and Providenciales. Shoreline management plans for the Islands will also form part of this technical assistance.”
Three years later and the CDB Director admits that the project still has a distance to go. Daniel Best said plans are to work with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government for project submissions to source designs for coastal defences.
The second venture, a Solid Waste Management Project is also severely waylaid by this human resource deficiency and that fact will be particularly jarring for the people of northwestern Providenciales, which is home to the communities of Wheeland and Blue Hills. Residents, across the islands are hopeful for a remedy to longstanding qualms about management of dump sites.
Severe respiratory health problems resulting from smoke and fumes emanating from fires in and around the Providenciales Landfill have raised public interest in the approved Solid Waste Management Technical Assistance contract with the CDB.
“Unfortunately that project has not progressed as fast as we would have wanted it to; the TA (technical assistance) has been approved and we are in the process of working with the TCI to procure consultants, to engage consultants,” informed Mr. Best.
“Arduous” is the way ahead for the solid waste management assistance, the CDB Project Director explained.
Within the July 2017 ministerial statement, Premier Sharlene Robinson announced the project and in 2019, the Technical Assistance for Solid Waste Management was approved at the Cabinet level.
From the July 26, 2017 ministerial statement to the House of Assembly: “Mr. Speaker, Solid Waste Management involves everybody throughout the length and breadth of these Islands, and it is my Government’s intention to advance a technical assistance loan from the Bank to assist us in updating the waste management strategy for the country as well as designing the best option for waste disposal on each Island.
Our Islands do not always depict our country’s tagline and as we clean up the streets and communities, we must put in place proper management systems that will address littering, indiscriminate dumping and management of landfills also known for us as dump sites. Public education and fines will also be hallmarks of the new Policy.”
Since then, the widespread destruction and reconstruction resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria have generated a substantial increase in the amount of debris being hauled to the dump site.
Additionally, the hazardous practice of igniting coal kiln fires, suspicion of arson and spontaneously combusting spot fires have worked to accelerated air pollution and community frustration.
Doctor visits and respiratory cases have climbed among residents of the area; though in recent months, there has been a decline in instances of foul odors and toxic air.
“There may be need for some support in the country and this is one where we will certainly be putting a lens on to see how we can actually get it moving faster,” the comment from Mr. Best in response to Magnetic Media’s conveyance of public anxieties.
Daniel Best added, “I hear you and I agree. It is an environmental concern. It may not be a hurricane or a cyclone, but it is an environmental concern and it is one that the CDB is committed to working with the government of the TCI to resolve.”
Kamala Harris to meet with Caribbean leaders in The Bahamas
#USA, June 5, 2023 – Kamala Harris, United States Vice President will journey to Nassau Bahamas in June for a top level meeting with Caribbean leaders, marking the first time she will visit the region since occupying office in 2021.
According to the White House in a statement, the meeting will bring attention to a range of regional issues. Harris and the Caribbean leaders will continue talks on the shared efforts to address the climate crisis, such as promoting climate resilience and adaptation in the region and increasing energy security through clean energy.
Additionally, the statement informed that Harris’ trip “delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean in pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the common bonds and interests between our nations.”
The June 8th meeting builds on and strengthens the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030, which was launched by the Vice President and Caribbean leaders in Los Angeles at the Summit of the Americas as further mentioned by White House Statement.
Woman who lost foot is Alexandra Truwit, Yale Grad & All American Swimmer
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 5, 2023 – A champion swimmer, marathon runner, Ivy League graduate and world traveler with a huge smile– that is Alexandra Truwit; at only 22 years old, she has a whole life ahead of her, one that may have now been made exponentially harder by the loss of her foot in an incident which continues to be unconfirmed, but reported as a shark attack off the coast of Providenciales.
Magnetic Media learned Truwit, who is a very experienced swimmer, was on a private charter captained by an employee of Big Blue Collective (not a Big Blue Charter). She was bitten by what eyewitnesses think could have been a Caribbean Reef Shark and her foot below the ankle was completely severed.
It’s a heartbreaking incident exacerbated by the young woman’s obvious love for- and proficiency in- the water.
The Yale website describes Truwit as a Two-time USA Swimming Academic All-American. Featured as a ‘Teen Titan’ in her high school, she was one of ten young people chosen for the school’s magazine.
Truwit, who has a twin brother, cites nail art and baking as her life joys. Already having survived ‘mono’ as a teen, she volunteers as a Special Olympics “hugger” and started a Special Olympics club at her high school.
She was airlifted from the Turks and Caicos on the day of her accident and there have been no updates on her condition so far. Residents in the TCI and the US have expressed via social media their best wishes for the young achiever and must now wait, hoping for the best possible outcome.
One resident said, “So sorry Alexandra you had to encounter such a traumatic experience while on vacation on our beautiful Island. I am praying for a successful surgery and speedy recovery for you, hopefully, the surgeon can work their magic for you.”
Governor’s Appointed Member touts Civil Service Upgrade during Budget Debates
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 5, 2023 – There are sweeping changes coming to the civil service this year after years of complaints about delays and understaffing.
“For the year 2023/24, the office of the Deputy Governor has a very ambitious public sector transformation centered around improving service delivery and the customer experience.”
This came from Governors Appointed Member Willin Belliard, as he rose in the budget debates on Thursday May 18 to detail the revamp.
Phase one of E-procurement which will allow for the virtual submission of tenders is to be implemented. Along with that will come E-Jobs, a similar system touted to make job applications virtual, swift and easy.
Implementation of the Human Capital Procurement Program is also on the list of deliverables. Human capital is sorely lacking in the Turks and Caicos across the public and private sectors with hundreds of vacancies sitting open and resignations continuing to pile up.
Public servants will also find it easier to enroll into the all new Public Sector Pension Plan with the advent of a portal to remove the need for paper based applications.
The previously announced pay grading exercise is on the table to be completed and a Contract management unit has now been created to manage the delivery of projects that taxpayers are funding.
Residents of the Turks and Caicos have complained bitterly about the state of the civil service in the country for years. From police records to the treasury, the service is characterized by low staffing, frustrating wait time and long lines.
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