#TurksandCaicos, June 2, 2021 – A canopy for shelter, a new clearance procedure and additional staff are among the plans to help manage arriving passengers at the Providenciales International Airport; the long standing issue of congestion at the airport is back, as life returns to normal and that pent up demand for Turks and Caicos vacations is manifest.
H.E. Anya Williams, Turks and Caicos Islands Deputy Governor, in response to our queries confirmed there were a crush of issues on Saturday which led to passengers having to queue on the tarmac for long periods of time, not least of which is that six immigration officers scheduled to work did not show up.
“Some have provided medical certificates to support their absence while others are still being investigated. To minimize the impact of their absence, off duty officers on the island of Providenciales were called in, in addition to officers having been brought over from Grand Turk to assist,” said HE Williams, who heads the Public Sector of TCI Government.
While there is no official information on why those officers were out, a back-up plan is being hatched.
“I can confirm as well that 6 Immigration Officers scheduled to work on Saturday did not report for duty. Some have provided medical certificates to support their absence while others are still being investigated.
To minimize the impact of their absence, off duty officers on the island of Providenciales was called in, in addition to officers having been brought over from Grand Turk to assist.”
Astounding, she said is the overwhelming arrivals for Saturday. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported 7.1 million travelled over the week, with 1.6 million passengers through US airports on Saturday alone.
“I can confirm that on Saturday May 29, 2021 we experienced significant congestion issues at the arrivals section of the Providenciales Airport which resulted in persons having to queue on the tarmac for an unfortunate period.
This was due to a number of factors including heavy flight loads as well as scheduling and other issues, including staff absences during the early part of the day.
A total of 2,397 passengers arrived at the Providenciales Airport on Saturday May 29; quite a significant increase compared to previous months.
7 international flights arrived between 12 to 1pm, some within 10 mins of each other, preventing officers from being able to clear one flight before the next or a subsequent thereafter landed, resulting in long queues.”
Mr. Floyd Ingham, Acting CEO of the TCI Airports Authority confirmed on Saturday that flights had reported they would be 75-80 per cent full.
“The Turks and Caicos is currently experiencing a significant increase in our tourism arrivals,” said Mrs. Williams, who continued in her statement with: “We are working our best to develop a strategy for the construction of a new terminal as we recognize that our current demand has outgrown the current space at the airport, which has proven to be even more challenging at a time when we are trying to enforce social distancing, health screening and other requirements.”
In the interim; a canopy is coming and cross training of Immigration officers to support the TCI Travel Authorization will happen, she said.
Barbados bestows Humanitarian Award on PAHO director Dr. Carissa Etienne
By Shanieka Smith
#Barbados, November 25, 2022 – The newest recipient of Barbados’ Humanitarian Award is outgoing Pan American Health Organization Director, Dr Carissa Etienne. The government of Barbados grants this award to frontline workers who were instrumental during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Etienne expressed her gratitude for the recognition, noting, however, that she was more grateful for the opportunity to have served on the island. She also praised Prime Minister, Mia Mottley for her diligence in leading the country and regional involvement during the pandemic.
Humanitarian medals were also given to Frontline workers who risked their own safety to ensure the needs of the public were met. Those who held supporting roles on the frontline received humanitarian lapel pins, and those who made generous donations were given humanitarian plaques.
Dr. Etienne highlighted one major lesson from the pandemic, “we are only safe when the weakest among us is also safe”.
Bahamas and Turks & Caicos Immigration Ministers make appearance on TCI Radio Talk Show
By Dana Malcolm
#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – “We have a humanitarian concern of course but we can only absorb so much” was how Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Public Service in The Bahamas addressed the issue of the UN constantly nudging Caribbean countries about the deportation of migrants and recommending that it not be done.
He was speaking Thursday November 24 with Cheryl and Zhavargo on First Edition which airs on RTC FM.
While acknowledging that the UN offices likely ‘have to do what they do’ Minister Mitchell explained that the current irregular migrants trying to get into the Bahamas did not fit the bill of ‘refugees’ as defined by the UN.
“We have a treaty obligation that says that if people have a fear of persecution in their home country that we have an obligation to take them in as asylum seekers. The people who come through on these boats from the south of us are not asylum seekers. They are afraid of poverty and that’s a difficult issue but in a legal sense we’re not obligated to embrace people on that basis.”
He cited a study that had found, on any given day there were around 7,000 illegal migrants in The Bahamas trying to get to the US maintaining that his chain of islands had to take a stand on the issue. The Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that TCI was in an identical situation, citing also the the cultural effects of irregular migration.
“There is a cleavage which has developed in our own society over this; people are very concerned that we could lose our identity if we do not get on top of it.”
Earlier this year Arlington “new sheriff in town” Musgrove, Minister of Immigration and Border Services in the Turks and Caicos had described statements calling on surrounding countries to do more to assist persons fleeing Haiti as “reckless and misguided.”
“Haiti has a population of 11.6 million people. How could any small developing state like the Turks and Caicos Islands assist that number of people or even the smallest fraction of them? We have a population of some 47,000 persons, and our health care, education and other social systems remain fragile and could never withstand an influx of refugees. This would be a risk to our very own livelihood,” he had said.
He was interviewed in the same show on Thursday prior to Mitchell and expressed a similar determination to crack down on illegal migration.
“I want to stress this. If we catch anyone harbouring illegals, it could be my mommy, she’s going up. We cannot tolerate this. We’re catching the sloops so my Haitian brothers and sisters should stress to them don’t waste your money we’re sending you back.”
Turks and Caicos, this year passed a law, doubling fines and prison times for individuals harbouring illegal migrants.
Former Bahamian Cabinet minister defends record amid ongoing police investigation
By Shanieka Smith
#TheBahamas, November 25, 2022 – Former Youth, Sports and Culture Minister, Lanisha Rolle is reportedly currently under investigation due to several allegations that came up during her tenure; she however knows nothing of this alleged criminal investigation.
After the minister resigned – unceremoniously – in February 2021 with little explanation, the ministry was locked down by the Prime Minister for an audit of the National Sports Authority, which fell under her ministry.
Auditor General Terrance Bastin revealed that unauthorised contracts had been issued, some of which were later forwarded to the NSA for payment. Three cheques to contractors were also found, which were paid to individuals and then collected by a senior ministry official.
Despite the allegations, Rolle said she upheld cabinet standards and good governance during her tenure. She added that a minister is not always aware of “everything in a ministry at any given time.”
Rolle said she has not yet been approached by the RBPF regarding the audit findings. Having served as a member of the Police Force for 11 years herself, Rolle told a crush of media on Wednesday (November 23) that she continues to trust that they will follow the legal process and in due time, the truth of her innocence will be revealed.
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