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Over 6,000 All Island Votes up for Grabs; more voters, less candidates

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#TurksandCaicos, February 17, 2021 – There are nearly 900 or 11 percent more voters registered to participate in this upcoming general election and there are many more votes up for grabs, at least 5,000, due to a reduced number of political parties contesting in the 2021 national poll.

Historically, governance in the Turks and Caicos Islands volleys back and forth between the two main political engines:  the People’s Democratic Movement, PDM and the Progressive National Party, PNP. 

Once again, the All Island district is a formidable race with five individuals nominated per party and eight independents offering At Large.

With no PPP or PDA in the picture, and if voter turn-out remains in the 80 percent range, there are  literally thousands of votes available to the candidates hoping to be among the five most popular. 

In 2016, some 29,233 votes were cast in the At Large district or category, of which 5,069 were spent on the 11 candidates nominated either with the PDA (4) or Independent (7).

Leading the All Island candidates for two consecutive general elections was Sharlene Robinson; who in 2016 became the country’s first woman premier.  Robinson, as PDM leader drew 3,204 votes; which was actually 223 votes less than the previous run off in 2012.

Robinson also outdistanced the second finisher in 2012 by more votes than in 2016, where Josephine Connolly was within five votes of the popular Sharlene Robinson.  In 2012, Rufus Ewing was second popular and was bested by Mrs. Robinson with 175 more electors giving her the nod.

In 2016, Josephine Connolly, now starring on the PNP ticket after defecting from the PDM, had lost very little ground with 3,023 votes recorded in 2012 and 3,019 votes in 2016; a mere four point difference.  It reflects a steady showing for Connolly, who is striving for a third term in office.

Hugely popular Derek Taylor slumped between 2012 and 2016 by 451 votes.  Taylor, a former chief minister secured 3,191 votes in 2012 and 2,740 electors supported him in the 2016 election.  The question is, does this senior statesman have what it takes to cross the finish line in at least fifth place to serve again?

Karen Malcolm comes from a mighty clan and this kind of national popularity is believed to have been the main impetus for her in a cushy fourth place overall for All Island in 2016.  It was Malcolm’s first bid for elected office as a PDM candidate, earning 2,725 votes. 

The 2016 fifth All Island Candidate was one of four PNP members who held onto a seat after a crushing defeat to the PDM on December 15 that year. 

Also a former chief minister, Washington Misick suffered a steep fall in popularity securing 772 less votes in 2016, than in the previous election where he was well over 3,000 votes.  Barely getting through with a mere 21 votes over the sixth place finisher, Misick assumed Leader of Opposition business in the House of Assembly with the resignation of Rufus Ewing as PNP Leader.  By 2019, the Progressive National Party returned C. Washington Misick officially to the helm.

 Noteworthy for the PNP is that two of the former independents, who between them secured over 2,400 votes are at the forefront of the 2021 General Election campaign.

Jas Walkin is the PNP’s Campaign Manager; in 2016 Walkin had support from 834 electors. 

Michael Misick, former premier for the PNP had 1,629 voters cast ballots in his support of his bid, though he was embroiled in a corruption trial.  The trial, due to the passing of Justice Paul Harrison earlier this month, is on shaky ground.  Its future will be known by March 1, 2021.

As for which political party will claim victory and steer the Turks and Caicos over the next four years, that is difficult to say.  Grassroots members from both sides contend it will be a landslide in their party’s favor, laced with upsets and shockers. 

Swing voters and more neutral observers agree that it will be a tight race which is threatened both by possible voter apathy and fears linked to Covid-19. 

Turks and Caicos general elections are Friday February 19; polls open from 7am to 9pm with times varying based on island and one’s category as voter.

Photo Caption: TCI Elections office, voter simulation exercise and explainer video 2021.

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Cuban Nationals Apprehended in Bahamian waters

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#TheBahamas, June 24, 2021 – A group of Cuban Nationals are currently being detained at the Carmichael Road Detention Center after they were apprehended in the south west Bahamas by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.

The fifteen individuals were captured after being sighted on Anguilla Cay on Tuesday 22 June. They were taken aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter, CHARLES SEXTON, and handed over shortly after 7:00 pm to the Defence Force patrol craft, HMBS DURWARD KNOWLES, under the command of Senior Lieutenant Jataro McDonald.

The Cubans were subsequently brought into the capital early Thursday morning, where they were handed over to the relevant authorities. The Cuban Embassy has since been notified. 

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to maintain a vigilant presence while patrolling and protecting the territorial waters of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and working with other law enforcement agencies.

Photos shows: Cuban nationals shortly after their arrival at the Defence Force Base, Coral Harbour on Thursday June 24, 2021. (RBDF Photo by Petty Officer Al Rahming)

 (For further information please contact the RBDF Public Relations Department or visit our website: www.rbdf.gov.bs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and view our Youtube channel)

-rbdf-

#GuardOurHeritage

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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS GOVERNOR ASKS FLORIDA COUNTERPART TO CONSIDER VACCINATION CHECKS FOR CRUISE PASSENGERS

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Governor Albert Bryan Jr. cites concerns around unvaccinated cruise passengers arriving in the Caribbean

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (June 11, 2021) – Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands Albert Bryan Jr. has made a plea to his Florida colleague, Governor Ron DeSantis, to honor Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and reconsider the state’s legislation, which could impact the health and wellbeing of millions of Caribbean residents when cruises to the region resume.
As increasing numbers of Americans receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Bryan believes that ensuring the cruise industry reopens with vaccinated passengers is essential to the tourism economies of the U.S. Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean.
Congratulating the Florida governor for his commitment to health, civil liberties and economic revitalization, Governor Bryan called for an exception – one that would enable vaccination checks for outbound passengers on cruise ships, which do most of their business on the open seas and directly impact the multiple Caribbean islands they visit.

“The bill you signed into law (which goes into effect July 1, 2021) may negatively impact the United States Virgin Islands and other port of call destinations in the Caribbean region,” said Governor Bryan, who highlighted CDC approvals for cruise ships to begin sailing this summer from U.S. ports with strict health and safety guidelines, such as the vaccination of 95% of passengers and crew members

With Florida serving as the nucleus and biggest embarkation point for cruises in the United States that dock in the U.S. Virgin Islands and throughout the Caribbean, the Governor indicated that “our ports … are in direct line of fire,” adding that while the two hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands are equipped to care for the Territory’s residents, they lack the resources to address a potentially larger public health crisis. “The lack of infrastructure puts us at a disadvantage for any crisis – health or mother nature. This is true of not only the Virgin Islands but most of the countries in the region,” the Governor penned.
With this reality, the governor expressed his concern for all citizens in the Caribbean region: “This is why I implore you to reconsider with a lens to the negative impact that your legislation may have on residents in the Caribbean … the cruise line and tourism employees, many of whom are of Caribbean descent, are now almost fully vaccinated and ready to get back to work.” 

“Please consider the exemption proposed above so … Caribbean (destinations) can feel safe on arrival and disembarkation of cruise passengers and crew. This will be a big win for the people of the Caribbean and the Caribbean expatriates that live in your state. It is my hope that you can assist us in moving in the same direction while respecting regional health liberties,” he affirmed. Governor Bryan has also shared a communiqué with the leadership of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) inviting support from regional leaders to work with the USVI in finding an agreeable path forward to welcoming cruise ships and their passengers back to the islands in as safe a way as possible.
About the U.S. Virgin IslandsFor more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel – including on-line check-in – making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.

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Turquoise Gold; how TCI’s slice of the Atlantic Ocean does more than boost Tourism

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#TurksandCaicos, May 18, 2021 – Dig ten feet down and you will find turquoise gold!  Hidden in the porous limestone bedrock of Providenciales is same stuff which has rocketed Turks and Caicos Islands to superstar status when it comes to luxury tourism.  It may surprise Provo residents that the enveloping commodity and pristine natural resource serves another practical purpose; it is the same safe, tasty, reliable drinking water flowing from our taps.

Turks and Caicos’ slice of the Atlantic Ocean is also the life sustaining water used to clean, cook, drink and grow gardens thanks to Provo Water Company, which has been supplying city water since 1997.

As the company commemorated its 10th year of Drinking Water Week, executives agreed to a throw-back to a decade ago with Magnetic Media and it is a refreshing story.

“Ten years ago we had probably 120 miles of pipeline, currently we have 136 miles and there is additional pipeline scheduled for the next two to three years in various areas. Communities like Five Cays, Blue Hills, Chalk Sound – just about everywhere and that is just additional pipeline that we’re putting in to make sure we can connect new customers,” said Robert C. Hall, the personable Managing Director of Provo Water Company.

Mr. Hall, during the interview, often referenced the company’s 20-year development plan; a plan which embraces the liberties of being wholly, a privately owned company. 

Just under a decade ago, Provo Water Company bought the Turks and Caicos Islands government’s 46 per cent stake in the water company for a reported $7.5 million; today it is a healthy set-up which in 2018 peaked at distribution of two million gallons of water in a single day.   

“We are looking at how we are going to supply the islands for the next 20 years and the major component of that plan is a second water plant on the northwest side of the island,” explained Mr. Hall at the Provo Water Company’s accredited laboratory overlooking western Leeward Highway. 

The 20 year plan obviously does more than look at expansion, it also considers contingency.

“The objective is to be able to supply the island from either director if that need arises.  So if we had a catastrophe in Grace Bay, we would be able to supply the island from northwest end and vice versa,” said Mr. Hall, who is an engineer by profession.

Ten years ago there were 3,500 consumers in the system; today there are 5,500 and technology is helping to manage these customers in Providenciales.  Provo Water Company does not tally per recipient of the service; they count their consumers by how many subscribers are signed onto the service.  Which means, there are far more households and businesses than reflected in 2021cumulative customer figure.

“We are able to produce just under four million gallons of water per day.  Currently we are using about – in this particular time – 1.1 to 1.2 million gallons per day.  So we’ve got built in capacity obviously to accommodate any growth in the short to medium term.”

Reverse osmosis of the salty ocean water is the process used to transform our turquoise gold into nourishing, drinking water; a process which requires its own story.  Suffice it to say, what is produced by source and sister company: Turks and Caicos Water, would be meaningless if there was nowhere to store it.

Right now, there are 2.5 million gallons stored at the plant in Grace Bay.  Another one million gallons is held at the storage tank near FortisTCI, the electricity supplier, off Leeward Highway.

“We are currently the owners of the land on the roundabout near CIBC, and there are some additional storage and pumping facilities that will be built there very shortly; we are hoping to start that this year. So that is a part of the project of trying to get water to and from both ends of the island.

We always have to be ahead of the curve, because the demand will always be there and the capacity to supply that demand has to always be ahead.”

In our series, we explore more advancements in the past ten years; including the biggest splash for Provo Water Company:  the introduction of artificial intelligence and technology.

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