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Eight Resorts caught on camera; Taxi Drivers say ‘stop stealing our jobs’

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#TurksandCaicos,February 13, 2021 – Public Service driver license holders say the times are just too rough economically for resorts to be allowed to breach Road Traffic rules and act as taxis, which cuts down on jobs and incomes in an already depressed industry.

At least eight resort complimentary vehicles were caught red-handed dropping guests off at shopping districts, restaurants and tour sites as taxi drivers sat waiting for the opportunity.   The complimentary vehicles were filmed and photographed.

“Stop it!  Because we are already at a disadvantage right now.  We are all looking to feed our families and we are paying our business licenses and you’re taking away from local drivers.  You’re breaking the law,” said a driver who reported what was seen to our news organization and relayed what needs to happen. 

“Drivers are at all of these resorts and watching what is happening to them; it is unfair.”

It is unfair and it is illegal, agreed Wilbur Caley, the director of the Road Safety Department which licenses motor vehicles. 

“I have just written to two resorts about this very complaint.  In the letter I have informed the resorts that the are in breach of Section 5, subsection 2 of the Road Traffic Ordinance,” said Caley in a telephone interview.  “My advice to them was to cease and desist.  You simply cannot do it and I have copied the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police and the TCI Tourist Board on the reported violation.”

The fine for breaking this law is $1,000 and in extreme cases, the license of the complimentary vehicle could be suspended by a court of law.

“There are 300 drivers and since Covid-19 and the country’s reopening, we have not been seeing the same number of tourists.  We are at about 30 percent of the business we had before the pandemic hit. If we are lucky, we get one job a day now and the load is cut in half.  We used to be able to take 10 passengers, now it is five people which is 50 percent.  So we are earning a lot less.“

The driver speaking to Magnetic Media said the new curfew  which runs from 6pm to 6 am is also hurting them too.

“There are drivers who worked mainly at night; I would say they’ve lost 40 to 50 percent of income because they no longer have those dinner runs.”

The Ford Transit and the Chevy E350 are the transport vehicles of choice for taxi drivers in the ground transportation industry.  

“What you could have made in one day, now you have to work two to three days and you have to re-fuel and fuel is more expensive.”

Public Service Drivers have also embraced the changes in health protocols to fit this post-COVID era.  Capacity is reduced by 50 percent; drivers must wear gloves and face covering; there must be sanitizer for use when people enter and exit the vehicles and the electrostatic foggers – which were donated to the drivers by Beaches Resort – continue to be useful. 

“We use the foggers between runs.”

 Complimentary vehicles, owned by resorts are only permitted to shuttle guests between properties. 

Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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