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TCI: Juniper Hole re-claimed 13-years later at lucky $8 Million price tag

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#TurksandCaicos, May 30, 2021 – Juniper Point, better known as Juniper Hole goes down in TCI history as one of the largest land sales ever, it is also likely the most infamous… though initially thought to be some 2500 acres, it is confirmed by the Attorney General Rhonda Lee Braithwaite Knowles, QC as 1000 acres.

Premier Washington Misick, in his first 100 days in office managed to negotiate a deal with British Caribbean Bank that has seen the treasured yet controversial, Juniper Point property in Middle Caicos returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government and it has cost the country far less than it could have. 

“British Caribbean Bank had a lien on it for the money they’ve paid to Government for it, which was an investment but they actually held the lien because they loaned the money towards it.  We were able to negotiate repurchasing the land back, 1,000 acres for the same amount of money, or just a little bit more in terms of the interest, than what they had paid to lend out to acquire the land. So, that thousand acres of Juniper Hole is coming back to the Government,” said Hon E. Jay Saunders, Deputy Premier,  in a Thursday May 20, press conference where he fleshed out decisions made in the previous day’s Cabinet session.

The Deputy Premier, E. Jay Saunders confirmed that Juniper Hole’s reclaim was complete and when asked what it cost the government to get it back; he said around $8 million dollars.

“It’s about $8 million, slightly above eight and definitely less than $9 Million all-in.  So we paid basically, the money that was loaned to be paid to the government.  It’s not any money that Government is losing because that is the money paid to acquire the land from Government, paid out by British Caribbean Bank.”

According to the evidence presented in the Special Investigation and Prosecution Trial, (SIPT) the investor Juniper Hole Development Ltd paid $7.5 million for the land. 

It was particularly outrageous to scrutinizing eyes because the land had been valuated at $24 million; which meant the developer got a 60 per cent discount on the property which was not only pristine but historic. 

Juniper Point is picturesque, a sanctuary for birdlife and significantly it is the site of the Crossing Place Trail; the refurbished paths link North and Middle Caicos and were the point of crossing when tide was low between the two largest, greenest islands; land which was supposed to go to the Turks and Caicos National Trust but which – due to the suspect and seemingly insensitive sale – appeared to be on its way to being erased by Juniper Hole Development Ltd. 

One plan published was to construct as many as 1000 villas, a marina and a golf course, a project so massive it would have spanned both North and Middle Caicos, according to the SIPT. 

The sketchy transaction involved islanders who were allegedly asked to be shareholders, allegedly signed up – unwittingly – to be guarantors of a loan at British Caribbean Bank and had received payments as part of the elaborate scheme. 

Concern was had over the land transfer which SIPT trial notes say went to Standfield Green Law firm instead of the usual course, to the Developer.  Then Governor Richard Tauwhare was reportedly shocked by events which in his view, went constitutionally contrary to decisions taken at Executive Council. 

From up to four developers who wanted to own the spot, to Development Agreements which were said to have been forced on the AGs Chambers, to  advice from  TC Invest shunned, to incorrect billing which led to the low payment of $7 and a half million dollars, the case continues to bring into disrepute, allegedly, the PNP Government of that day but the PNP Government of this day, has brought welcomed resolve, 13 years later and while the cost to do so could have been easily in the tens of millions of dollars, it was not. 

With $8 million, which is roughly what the Government got paid for the property in February of 2008, Juniper Point better known as Juniper Hole is back where it belongs, with the people of the TCI.

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Bahamas News

Statement on Road Traffic Department 

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#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.

On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.

This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.

The revenue must be protected.

To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.

The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.

While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.

Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.

The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.

The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.

 

September 26th, 2022 

Ministry of Transport & Housing

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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Bahamas News

NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

 Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

 The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

 During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

 The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

 Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

 (A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

 Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

 Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

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Bahamas News

Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 –  A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.

During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.

Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.

He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.

“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”

“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.

“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”

The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.

Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.

He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.

Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.

He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.

During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.

“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.

The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.

 

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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