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Letter to the Editor: What about Beaches Turks & Caicos?

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#October 28, 2020 – Letter to the Editor

The Editor, I listened to the press conference today (October 27 – Premier Press Conference) and heard a lot about nothing at all. The TCIG continues to act like an ostrich with its head stuck in the sand, talking a whole lot of fluff while not talking about the one thing people want to hear about which is, when will Beaches opening and what are you doing to get Beaches open.

Everywhere you go the talk is about when Beaches will open, but not one word in today’s press conference until the reporters had to ask. Why is the government acting blind to the suffering of people who are without jobs, and without incomes. Why is it always kicking the can down the road, and acting clueless whenever someone ask about the closure of the hotels particularly Beaches.

People are fed up. People want to get back to work and people want to see money flowing again. It is no wonder that the people in Beaches are fed up too, and you can see it in the public statements the resort is making. So why did Beaches have to take off its gloves to get any response from the TCIG. It is like the what Magnetic Media wrote just a few weeks ago this is the no reply government.

All the talk of what a good job the government has done and diversification and reserves and all of that is just fluff, it does not impress  anybody, and certainly not those people who have no job to go to when tomorrow comes. It is almost insulting to hear the TCIG say that this process is going as fast as it can. The media personnel themselves seemed taken aback by this response, because if this issue can’t be resolved after three or four years then heaven help us.

As for continuing to blame COVID for all the problems, well while that may have been true early in the year, the fact is that hotel sector in countries all over the Caribbean are opening up now and guess who is leading the charge to open, none other than Sandals and Beaches.

Antigua is open. Jamaica is open, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Lucia. Beaches and Sandals have brought back out thousands of people in those islands, and they had to work with those governments to get it done. So when they complain of incompetence on the part of the TCIG is it so hard to see why. The TCI has the biggest and best of the resorts but yet we can’t get it reopened. That means no airlift, no jobs and no revenue.

Saying you care about restoring the economy is one thing, but being able and competent enough to do it is another. From all we have heard about this issue it seems like a very straightforward matter. It does not seem to be as impossible as the government continues to claim.

People are tired of hearing about matters before the courts, and now we hearing of mediation. In fact with respect to the mediation Beaches said it was ready for November 8th and then we hear TCIG pushed it back November 18th. If the resort is to open on November 18th,  how could you push back the mediation to November 18th, Make no sense. Is the TCIG serious? Isn’t this exactly what the resort has complained about?

In any event mediation does not promise a solution; it just promises that this matter is going to drag out further, because if it has to go to Cabinet and to the House of Assembly as is reported, then we may not see Beaches reopen this year AT ALL. Let that reality sink in, because the TCI could be facing a very blue, blue Christmas and an uncertain New Year.

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.

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TCI Census Contests Results coming soon

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – After the revelation that the 2022 National Census had to be put on the back burner because of gang violence, the Department of Statistics is reassuring residents that the competitions held in relation to the census have already been judged and results will be announced soon. 

In a follow up to a Magnetic Media report of Tuesday November 29, we spoke to Shirlen Forbes, who heads the Department of Statistics.  Mr. Forbes explained that the logo, slogan and tagline contests for the census already had their winners.

Prizes for the logo competition ranged from $400 to $1000.The slogan competition open to high school and TCICC students only had prices ranging from $150-$400 and the tagline contest start up to $350 in prizes up for grabs for primary school students in the TCI.

If the reduction in crime holds steady, Forbes said the Census is expected to resume work in January 2023.

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Customers across both Internet Service Providers impacted by freak outage Saturday

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Magnetic Media can report, the strange countrywide outage affecting both Flow and Digicel customers over the weekend was a regional issue not just affecting The Turks and Caicos according to the service providers.

Numerous calls and complaints flooded Magnetic Media newsroom on Saturday; angry residents said their internet and mobile services had dropped.

Unusual was that customers of both providers were affected in this simultaneous event, which eventually we learnt had stemmed from beyond TCI shores.

At Digicel, the issues emerged from the night before with a drastic slow-down in speed of its internet services.  Technical staff was able to right the anomaly.

At Flow, the tech team was equally hard at work.  Flow’s serviced dropped completely.

On Monday,  we reached out to Flow and Digicel to find out exactly what caused the national disruption.  Flow Communications Executive Darron Hillaire told us, ““There was a multi-site outage that is still currently being investigated, as far as we know the cause was offshore, and details are still limited at this time.”

Providers in Jamaica confirmed that there were some regional issues that would likely affect countries maybe not in the form of total Internet outages but small drops in service coverage.

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TCI Gov’t Doubles Down on $7.5 Million Spend on Fibre Optic Cable needed for E-Government

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, November 30, 2022 – Static, crackling and the beeps of on screen messages that WhatsApp reconnecting were frequent interruptions on a recent Magnetic Media telephone interview with the TCI’s Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders.  Saunders, also the Minister of Finance with responsibility for E-governance  as he spoke to us from one of the family islands evidencing the need for e-infrastructure intervention; it also happened to be the very subject of our interview.

A new fibre optic cable is coming and it is the lynch pin in the development of a reliable, effective e-government system for the TCI.

Upwards of $7.5 million dollars is allocated to the investment on behalf of taxpayers; a pretty penny but it’s a desperately needed upgrade, said Saunders, who is confident the cable will revolutionize country-wide telecommunications.

“I’m personally excited by it because if we build it we will literally transform the TCI.  It’s one of those things you will look back on and think this was a watershed moment, where the Turks and Caicos moved up a notch.”

He  went on to detail the expected cost and the timing of the project.

“It’s going to be a multi-year project, it’s not going to be started and finished in one year so what we are budgeting in the next financial year is $7.5 million to start with– We want to get it done as quickly as possible.”
He stressed that if more cash was needed it would be provided.

“We think it will be less than two years but more than one year” Saunders said, emphasizing that the 18-month mark was likely.  He explained that he fully expected the cable to not only improve the quality of life in the TCI, but to turn a profit as well.

“Not just a profit- I truly believe that we’ll make a return on the investment for the people of the Turks and Caicos. Government services will certainly improve, particularly as we transition to e-government—and the carriers obviously utilize it.”

Saunders, who is a former CEO of Digicel Turks and Caicos had previously explained the value of the cable to enhancing the network between Provo and Grand Turk  in discussion with Robert Hall on RTC FM; he had appeared on a September 28th episode of Expressions radio talk show.

“All of the carriers send their signal from Providenciales to Middle Caicos and then to South Caicos and then the signal is sent to Grand Turk and so  if something happens to that tower in Middle Caicos, which is the least populated island then South Caicos goes down and Grand Turk goes down. It’s a very fragile setup.”

That setup limits the amount of data customers can receive, even the amount of cable channels Saunders told us, “The limiting factor is the wireless connectivity- once we get that domestic fibre in we will be able to get the same service to the family islands that we have in Provo.”

Talk of the fibre optic cable came up again during the recent town hall meeting held in Provo on November 21.  The Deputy Premier was addressing a question about e-Government.

The need for a revamp of the cable system was especially evident after the passage of Hurricane Fiona. Both Flow and FortisTCI suffered damage to its systems including downed poles which caused weeks of inconvenient service interruptions to residents.

In addition right now there is only one fibre optic cable coming into the islands; if that gets damaged the TCI is effectively disconnected from the Globe.  The new cable is also expected to give the Turks and Caicos full redundancy, in terms of connection to the wider world.

The fibre optic cable is expected to begin implementation  in January.

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