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TCI National Physical Development Plan closer to implementation says Deputy Premier

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – December 23, 2020 – It has been 33 years since the last National Physical Development Plan was produced and presented to the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, informed  Sean Astwood, TCI Deputy Premier and Minister of Infrastructure in the House of Assembly on December 21.

The final report is now received.

“Mr. Speaker, The NPDP final Draft report was submitted to the Department of Planning on November 30, 2020,” said the Minister in his ministerial report in parliament.

An outline of the objectives was a punctuating part of the presentation, which also gave the chronology of physical development plans for Turks and Caicos.  The new plan, which government initially received in the latter part of 2019 will, according to Astwood, “promote and encourage sustained physical, economic and social development while at the same time protecting and enhancing the natural environment which forms the basis for sustaining local livelihood in the islands and attracting foreign investment.”

Other objectives include:

• To secure that physical development occurs in a sustainable manner that protects the environment and ensuring an equitable share of natural resources are protected for future generations.

• To strengthen inter-sector co-ordination of the country’s overall development within a spatial framework and ensuring a balanced mix of land uses, as well as the use of natural resources in an environmentally responsible manner.

• To encourage a more balance development among the islands and bring about a more equitable distribution of the benefits from development.

The guide to growth, development and preservation also haves five key themes, said the Minister.

“Now more than ever, the Turks and Caicos Islands needs an updated, forward-thinking, culturally focused National Plan … A series of recommendations and strategies are included in the plan. They focus on five key themes: (1) Equity: Empowering ALL People of the Turks and Caicos; (2) Resilience, Sustainability, and Multifunctionality: Promoting Economic and Environmental Diversity; (3) Island linkage: Creating Physical, Psychological and Emotional connections across the entire Country; (4) Nature as Beauty: Protecting the Environmental Jewel; and (5) TCI Culture: Preserving the Heritage and Authenticity of TCI.”

A series of rounds of town meetings were held related to the National Physical Development Plan and its ten-year outlook; the Minister told the House of Assembly, the next step is to implement the strategies towards a brighter future that will ensure the Country’s prosperity for many years.”

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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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