#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – July 2, 2020 – Safe accommodations and a rescue flight to return for stranded Turks and Caicos residents were among the plans on the table tonight after a Covid-19 repatriation exercise today went disturbingly wrong.
Twenty-seven individuals were left behind in disbelief at the Sheltair private airport in Ft Lauderdale, South Florida as they watched their interCaribbean Airways chartered plane take off with no passengers on board.
Entry for everyone, including new born babies and their mothers was denied by Turks and Caicos Health officials without explanation and at the last minute.
Once news of this shocking abandonment of Turks and Caicos people hit mainstream and social media; comments revealed widespread outrage and bewilderment about the Government’s handling of the return home of citizens and expatriate workers.
Though many have pointed their fingers at the government administration, we are told tonight that if it were the final decision of the Minister and PDM Administration, all 27 individuals would be back on Turks and Caicos soil.
“We are very much disappointed; especially with our people being out there in Florida where you have so many more cases (of Covid-19); they are at a higher risk being out there. So any flights coming with seats on it, we want to have our people to fill it as much as we can, to bring our people home,” said the Minister of Health, Edwin Astwood.
In an interview this evening, the Minister confirmed to Magnetic Media that he was made aware of the denial of entry to 27 residents and citizens late Wednesday night. The individuals, had either bought their own tickets or had airfare paid for by the National Health Insurance Plan, which arranged seats for returning patients.
The response to the outcry for help was an immediate review the passenger list, after which he issued this recommendation:
“In reviewing the list of persons scheduled on the flight, the majority are NHIP patients and the remainder is in possession of a recent Covid-19 negative test result. Also included are three mothers with newborn babies. In addition, most stated that they would be able to quarantine at home (being in possession of their recent negative Covid-19 test).
I am recommending that the flight be granted leave to enter the TCI tomorrow afternoon, bringing the returning residents.”
With the Minister of Health on their side, the residents who had been previously informed their re-entry was denied were confident the repatriation flight would now take place. However, those hopes were crushed and instead the terminal was an emotional mix of tears, frustration, anger and bitter disappointment for the passengers, their families and the interCaribbean Airways crew.
The Minister confirmed that his Wednesday night communication was dispatched, via email, to the Chief Medical Officer, who is Dr. Nadia Astwood and the Director of Environmental Health, who is Kenrick Neely, among others.
“Maybe the Health officials thought they were working in the best interest of the general public because of the capacity and our recent outbreak (of coronavirus). That is what I am thinking that maybe they were thinking that they were acting in the public’s best interest by saying ‘no’ to this flight,” shared Minister Astwood.
The recommendation from the Minister, who is also a health professional, was rejected without notification, explanation or discussion.
“I thought persons would have taken the recommendation and go ahead with the flight, because I put myself on the line saying yes, that I would recommend that they do this flight. The relevant health officers, whom the (Public and Environmental Health) Ordinance empowers to make the final decision didn’t agree with the flight coming in,” explained Edwin Astwood.
Minister Astwood confirmed that up to the time of our interview, he had still not been offered a reason for the denial of the flight by the CMO and EHD Director.
The Minister did say that both officers have since been informed the situation their denial of re-entry has created will now cost the Government more money and has attracted considerable public backlash.
“We have the money that we can get a quarantine place. Now it will cost us the government much more in money and time, and funds are tight but it will cost us much more.”
It was also explained that knowing the details of this flight manifest in advance would have given the government administration more time to lobby for approvals and could have provided the opportunity to remove stumbling blocks.
“I have gotten other ministers involved; the Minister of Tourism, Immigration and the Premier are involved and we are seeing how we best we can sort out this problem and we have to do an investigation into what went wrong, why this happened at the ninth hour and why we were informed so late, yesterday evening.”
As for what happens tonight and when the residents can be brought home, Magnetic Media is informed that the National Health Insurance Board has been asked to offer assistance to residents until a rescue flight is arranged.
All stranded passengers are confirmed to have safe lodgings for the evening.
InterCaribbean Airways is ready to re-try the repatriation flight; requiring time to organize the mission and financial support from the Government to return for the individuals who remain stuck in Florida.
Energy & Utilities Commissioner says new legislation will help to stabilize energy costs in Turks & Caicos Islands
Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Thursday, 30th November 2023: The Energy and Utilities Department (EUD) of the Turks and Caicos Islands, today reminds the public that the comprehensive Renewable Energy Legislation is currently before the House of Assembly and that the Legislation not only addresses the existing challenges posed by fuel price volatility but also lays the foundation for a sustainable and resilient energy future for the TCI.
In a recent press release, FortisTCI cited global factors such as production cuts and increased demand for fuel, leading to a surge in market prices. The EUD acknowledging these challenges thanks our power supplier for its proactivity when it comes to informing consumers of any changes in the cost of electricity. Further, the Government of Turks and Caicos wants residents and guests to know that it is committed to taking proactive measures that will transform the energy landscape through robust Renewable Energy Legislation.
In that vein, Delano Arthur, the new Energy and Utilities Commissioner looks forward to working with FortisTCI in the upcoming days to find innovative and collaborative solutions to reduce the cost of Fuel and Energy in the Turks and Caicos Islands. This initiative aims to not only mitigate the impact of volatile fuel prices but also secures a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future for all of us.
Key components of the Renewable Energy Legislation include:
- Integrated Resource Plans: A formal planning process to prioritise renewable energy in addressing evolving energy needs.
- Competitive Tendering Process: Government-run initiatives to promote healthy renewable energy competition, achieve low-cost energy, and meet Paris Agreement goals.
- Administrative and Regulatory Measures: Establishing clear processes and responsibilities for all players who are in the renewable energy market.
- Licensing and Safety Standards: Comprehensive licensing provisions to ensure accountability and safety standards for renewable energy systems.
- Net Billing Program: Allowing building owners to self-generate and sell surplus electricity back to the grid.
The Renewable Energy Legislation serves as a mitigation against volatile fuel prices. By transitioning to cleaner energy sources and fostering a diverse renewable energy infrastructure, these Islands aim to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. The competitive tendering process introduced in the legislation ensures the selection of the most cost-effective renewable energy solutions, contributing to energy affordability and stability.
As the Islands invest in renewable energy, the increased share of clean, locally produced electricity provides a stable alternative to fluctuating fuel prices. The Net Billing Programme further incentivises distributed energy generation, offering a predictable path for building owners to contribute to the grid and receive compensation, thus reducing reliance on traditional fuel sources.
For further information, please contact:
Delano R. Arthur
Energy and Utilities Department
Turks and Caicos Islands Government
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Sea Patrol Vessels Approved by Cabinet, October 11 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 26th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 at the Governor’s Office, Providenciales.
All Members were present except the Hon. Josephine Connolly.
- Approved the Consultation Report on the Proposed Amendments to the Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance with amendments and agreed for the amended document to be brought back to Cabinet for final approval for onward submission to the House of Assembly.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Geta Crew Holding Ltd. for a mixed use development project on the island of Grand Turk, with the view of entering into a Development Agreement as per the Encouragement of Development Ordinance and the National Investment Policy.
- Approved the renewal of rental lease agreement, for various Government offices, between TCIG and Waterloo Property Management, Grand Turk.
- Approved the awarding of the following contracts:
- PN 005694, TR 23/13, Furniture and Equipment for NJS Francis Building; and
- PN 005696, TR 22/10, Purchase of Patrol Vessels.
- It noted the update from Her Excellency the Governor regarding the upcoming visit of UK Ministers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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