#TurksandCaicos, June 2, 2021 – Sean Astwood is resigning frontline politics, saying he will step aside as interim leader and deputy leader to allow the People’s Democratic Movement the opportunity to re-invent itself.
“As the PDM continues to reengineer, reimagine, rethink, reboot and reconnect with the wonderful people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I want to assure the Official Opposition Leader Hon. Edwin Astwood, the NGC, our various branches, especially the Provo Branch (my home branch), PDMs everywhere and all people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, that I remain committed to the orderly development of our party and country,” said Astwood in a statement issued on Sunday May 30.
The former Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos said he never anticipated rising to such ranks in his early days as a member of the People’s Democratic Movement, but is grateful for his experiences in the political arena.
“As a believer in the Party of JAGS MCCartney I started this political journey nearly two decades ago. Initially, as political neophyte who always assisted people but never contemplated political service. My journey began with great hope and soon what I thought, at the time, was a devastating legal and political defeat. Since then, this journey with its many ups and down has afforded me to raise to the position within the party politically as Interim Leader and from governance standpoint of Deputy Premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands holding multiple Ministerial posts. This journey has provided me a profound appreciation for the beauty and potential of our country and its people.”
One day from commemorating the impact of the first chief minister and founding father of his party, the People’s Democratic Movement and Rt Most Excellent JAGS McCartney; Sean Astwood has decided that on June 4, 2021 his resignation should take effect.
“I take pride in my membership of the PDM and the outstanding work we have done; especially in the past term in protecting the environment, positively impacting every constituency throughout our islands, particularly through infrastructural works, and our focus on transforming the way Government does business. I am proud of my service in the various capacities over these many years. I do not claim perfection, but I am resolute in my belief that every single day I got up thinking and doing what I could to provide better for all the people of the TCI; and to protect our country and its environs for those yet unborn. On Monday, May 31st, 2021, our Country will be celebrating JAGS McCartney Day, formerly National Heroes Day. We will be celebrating the father of our Nation and of the PDM. As the JAGS McCartney holiday quickly approaches, the party of JAGS must continue to rebuild,” he penned in the statement.
The People’s Democratic Movement suffered a staggering loss at the polls on February 19; the day after its party leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson resigned from the leadership position. Now, 100 days later so does its deputy and interim leader, Sean Astwood.
“As I step aside as Interim Leader and the position as Deputy Leader of the PDM effective this 4th day of June 2021, I know our party will continue to be strong, and represent the people of these beautiful islands, we call home.”
The party has been silent. Holding no media conferences or in person sessions with the wider press core since its 14 to 1 defeat in the 2021 General Election. The PDM lost significant ground; nine seats lured away by the now governing Progressive National Party, even as the PDM held 45 per cent of the vote.
Sean Astwood’s Five Cays and Chalk Sound constituency was one of the major upsets. The two-term member of parliament, who had enjoyed huge popularity just four years prior, was unseated by Rachel Taylor.
“My undying love for our people, our country and our party, the People’s Democratic Movement, will forever burn. My passion for modernizing our government systems, party, and country, I trust, will continue to be advanced as we grow from strength to strength,” he added a thank you, “I am thankful to God and the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands; especially my people of Five Cays, South Dock and Chalk Sound for the wonderful opportunity.”
Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister
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)
Storm Troubles as September heats up late
By Sherrica Thompson
September 27, 2022 – Hurricane Ian moved near the Cayman Islands and was forecast to intensify rapidly and hit Cuba as a major hurricane late on Monday and then strengthen into a Category 4 hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico before striking the west central coast of Florida on Wednesday.
Now millions in Tampa Bay, Florida are bracing for impact after a hundred year absence of any major storm.
So far, authorities in Cuba have suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and planned evacuations on Monday as Ian gained strength and approach Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. Cuba was also shutting down its train system ahead of the worst weather.
Senior Specialist at the United States National Hurricane Center Daniel Brown told The Associated Press early Monday that “Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane force winds, life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall.”
In the Cayman Islands, members of the government and opposition were working together to ensure that people were made as safe as possible and provided with supplies, plywood, and in some cases sandbags so that they could safely weather the storm, according to Premier Wayne Panton in a video on Sunday.
As of Monday, September 26, most of the customers on the island of Bermuda have received power with just about 200 properties still without electricity.
Last week Hurricane Fiona brought heavy rain and strong winds to the island causing about 29,000 customers, more than 80 per cent of the island’s sole power provider, Bermuda Electric Light Company to be without electricity on Friday morning.
The island has also started its restoration process and announced that it has reopened for business.
Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, more than a million people in the two countries are still without power and running water after the passing of Hurricane Fiona over the Islands last week.
A growing number of businesses in Puerto Rico, including grocery stores and gas stations, are temporarily closing across the territory as the outages drag on, sparking concern about the availability of fuel and basic goods.
As of Saturday, at least 16 people had died because of Hurricane Fiona, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, which is tracking hurricane-related deaths on the island.
TCHTA Expresses Sympathy to Bereaved Families and Grave Concern Over Recent Gun Crimes
#TurksandCaicos, September 27, 2022 – Communities in the country have come under siege in the wake of a recent explosion of gun violence resulting in several tragic deaths. The TCHTA bemoans these events, sending sympathy and encouragement to the families of the young men whose lives have been cut short by these brazen and deplorable attacks.
“We grieve the loss of these young lives and the devastation caused to the families involved,” lamented Stay Cox, CEO of the organization. “We’ve seen this before, and each time our communities and nation are pushed into a position of fear and panic as criminals eat away at the feeling of safety in our homes and neighbourhoods,” said Cox.
Earlier this year, the Association appealed for swift action to be taken against the uptick in brazen criminal activity and pledged its continued support and eagerness to partner with the RTCIPF in the fight against crime in Turks and Caicos.
The Association notes the swift action taken by the RTCIPF, the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Premier, and the NSC to stem the ongoing melee. The TCHTA joins the country in thanking the Cayman Islands for deploying one of its two police helicopters from the RCIPS Air Operations Unit to provide aerial assistance. Still, the killings continue driven by what the RTCIPF has said is perpetrated by groups involved in “gangs and serious organized crime.”.
CEO Cox said, “The recent update from the NSC sharing plans for a targeted RTCIPF Gun, Gangs, and Drugs Unit is promising and something we hope the Police will move toward aggressively. This problem is immediate and time-critical as criminals wreak havoc in these large communities, home to law-abiding citizens who cannot live as freely as they should.”
To date, the country’s murder count is staggering and utterly disproportionate to the size of the population. The Association says heinous occurrences like these are the nucleus of a cycle where communities are affected, day-to-day life is compromised, the country’s reputation is eventually damaged, and citizens are affected once again by economic loss when the country’s lifeline takes a hit.
President of the TCHTA, Trevor Musgrove, is reinforcing the organization’s commitment to assist where possible, appealing to all to get involved in the fight against crime. “Residents cannot be forced to accept this level of senseless violence in our country. We cannot stand for it, and we cannot turn a blind eye to it. We must take power away from these vagrants and do what it takes to save our young men.” said Musgrove.
The TCHTA President shared the Association’s thanks and support to the officers of the RTCIPF. “We know it is no small task, and we continue to send our appreciation to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force officers for their commitment and bravery. We know you are under attack, and we pray for your safety as you stand on the front line to protect the residents of this country.”
The TCHTA commends the members of the community who have provided information and assistance to the authorities as they work to infiltrate the groups at the core of this recent killing spree. The Association joins the RTCIPF in its appeal to the public for those in possession of unlicensed firearms to surrender them during the Gun Amnesty which begins on September 15th.
Musgrove said, “The fact is that we are losing a generation to gangs and guns, and a holistic approach is imperative. Our citizens and residents are being terrorized by those who have no value for human life and no respect for law and order. Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering from the fallout of these tragedies, and the TCHTA remains committed to our continued partnership with the authorities.”
The TCHTA sends its prayers to the families of the murder victims and hopes that justice will be served in these matters.
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