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REDEMPTION:  Providenciales Int’l Airport “Much Better Organised” for Travellers

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By Deandrea Hamilton

Editor

 

#TurksandCaicos, March 29, 2022 – In its busiest weekend handling 13,000 travellers, the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) scored sky high marks for performance after a dismal rating just seven days before.

“Yes, it was much better organised.  Long lines still, but better organized,” said a worker who was able to feel the island breezes swirling through the departure area of the airport; a young woman getting off for the day and seemingly happy to offer a positive analysis.

A week earlier, the congestion was so thick, no winds could fan the passengers or employees and there would be nowhere to stand and engage in friendly banter.

Last weekend the congestion was labelled “horrendous” and an “emergency.”  This past weekend, there was the kind of order more befitting one of the Caribbean’s fastest-growing, luxury destinations.

“The TCIAA met with several industry stakeholders (TCIG, the Tourist Board, TCHTA, airline representatives, and operators in a web conference on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022.”

That meeting resulted in a collaboration which has turned lemons into lemonade.

Managers of the country’s airports, the Turks and Caicos Islands Airports Authority (TCIAA) had rolled out a needs assessment list to the general public and met with stakeholders to create a plan.

While all elements of the plan did not materialize in time for weekend buzz, the string of ideas woven together in that virtual meeting compensated well to give the passengers an overall improved experience in arrivals and departures.

A key change which enabled the relief; reducing the length of time passengers actually spent at the airport.

“Several hotels have agreed to delay check-out or transport departing guests to the airport to avoid congestion in the check-in area during peak hours. To this end, the TCIAA encourages persons traveling this weekend to arrive no earlier than two (2) hours and no later than one (1) hour before their departing flight. In addition, the TCIAA and Airlines will be working together to assist persons during check-in to ensure that no one misses their scheduled flight,” said the TCIAA in a statement issued on Friday.

Our news organisation’s observation on Sunday, included passenger queues which were clearly defined for airline check-in and security check points.   More workers including volunteers who were assigned to guiding and supporting passengers were easily identified and included student interns from the Clement Howell High School Tourism Club.

There were no lines hanging out of the terminal building, no guests seated on the ground as they waited to depart the country and more regard for a healthy environment given that, officially, the Coronavirus Pandemic is not over.

Tents were erected outside the departure are in the event of an overflow.

Less crowding also meant less heat and with the open-air concept of the Providenciales International Airport departure lounge, which is not an air-conditioned space, it was vital that congestion be reduced to ensure comfort was heightened.

On Saturday, “there was live music playing” as had been the promise.  It was also agreed guests would receive complimentary drinks.

An air-conditioned tent was one of the plans which fell through; it was due to be set up on the airside of the PLS.

Interim CEO of the TCIAA informed that without the tent when guests arrive, it would be another “tough weekend.”

“Our tent plan will not be in place today as expected. Our contractor was delivering a different concept to our expectation.  We will work through this over the weekend,” said Godfrey Smith, TCIAA CEO.

Still, processing of arriving guests was to benefit from better co-ordination.  With the assistance of the Deputy Governor’s Office and the Ministry of Border Services, a revised approach came into play.

“Border Control Services (Immigration and Customs) will schedule additional staff to assist with the processing of inbound passengers. In addition, local airline agents will liaise with their respective airlines to ensure that passengers possess the required forms for processing through Border Control before arrival in the TCI.  The TCIAA will also ensure that additional forms and pens are available from within the airside holding tent to allow passengers to complete the required documents before entering Providenciales International Airport Turks and Caicos Islands Tel: 649.946.4420 Web: www.tciairports.com Email: nikeva@tciairports.com FB: www.facebook.com/tciairports Twitter: @tciaa the Immigration Hall. Health status cards for arriving passengers have been discontinued since December 1st, 2021,” was explained in the March 25, statement.

The FastTrack service offered by the PLS for a premium price fell far short however.

“There were not enough FastTrack hosts to handle the number of travellers who paid for it.  They’re going to have to do something about that,” explained one woman who saw multiple FastTrackers agitated by the inability to get the service expected.

The real issue at the PLS is no secret.  The airport is grossly undersized, and despite a $10 Million make-over which increased the parking apron, improved the airplane runway and doubled the size of the terminal building, the country’s #1 airport gateway is not fit for purpose.

Government has informed that it will take upwards of $350 Million to create a more ideal airport facility; but its fruition is at least four years down the road.

An immediate or interim solution has not been announced.

The TCIAA and its partners will however have other opportunities to fine tune its service at the Providenciales International Airport, as resorts have confirmed that bookings for April 2022 will top March 2022, for another record-setting month in tourism.

Bahamas News

Hurricane Nicole – A symbol of climate injustice

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By Deandre Williamson

Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellow

 

#TheBahamas, November 29, 2022 – With the trauma of Hurricane Dorian still lingering, Abaco and Grand Bahama residents braced for Hurricane Nicole as they experienced another unfair blow of climate injustice.

As sea levels rose, triggering storm surges and flooding, the northwestern islands of The Bahamas were placed under hurricane watch.  For many, this signaled that the fight for climate justice must continue.

Some residents on those islands evacuated their homes and fled to shelters hours before Nicole made landfall in The Bahamas on Nov. 9 as a tropical storm and strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane with winds up to 75 miles per hour.

“The wind was manageable.  It wasn’t as bad as we thought.  In our area we got maybe a limb or so that blew down.  The power was out for a while, but thank God, we made it through it,” Abaco resident Mark Anthony Swain said.

Although the impact of Hurricane Nicole was minimal when compared to Hurricane Dorian in 2019, climate change is the underlying cause of the intensity and frequency of hurricanes in recent years.

When Nicole exited The Bahamas, the “all clear” was given, but the country isn’t clear from future hurricanes and the devastating effects of climate change.

However, it’s clear that The Bahamas and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) need climate justice because they are hit hardest by the impact of climate change, are the least responsible and together bear next to no responsibility for the climate crisis.

While the Government of The Bahamas is fighting for climate justice, residents of Abaco and Grand Bahama are calling for more to be done to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Swain, who also experienced Hurricane Dorian, said the countries that are major contributors of carbon emissions in the atmosphere should do more to assist smaller countries in fighting climate change, so when hurricanes and other natural disasters occur, the smaller countries will be able to maintain themselves.

“I think these other countries that are contributing to the climate challenge that we are facing should be held responsible and accountable in that regard,” Swain added.

China, the United States, Russia, India and Japan are the top five countries with the highest carbon emissions in the world.

Grand Bahama resident Randy Deleveaux, who was on the island during Hurricane Nicole, agrees that more should be done concerning the climate crisis because The Bahamas is in a hurricane zone based on its geographical location.

“We know that every year rain, sun or shine, it appears as if we are going to have a hurricane, whether it’s a major one or not a major one,” Deleveaux said.  “As a matter of fact, even though the ones we consider not major, we still have to take more necessary precautions because Dorian taught us we can’t take nothing for granted.”

Deleveaux suggested that the government should ensure that every household is equipped with storm shutters, floatation devices and life jackets.

“There are so many things that the government can do and persons can do in relation to hurricanes because we always have to prepare,” he added.

“Every time we have a hurricane coming, persons have to run and scrap for plywood to put on their windows.  We need to move from that and be able to properly prepare.

“Look at our coastal erosion and stuff like that because of the hurricanes.  I remember one time you could go on the beaches and see sand, now some of these beaches don’t have no sand like that because of hurricanes and we’re not even looking at the impact that is having on our coastal and marine life. We don’t replace the sand.  There is so much things we can do.”

 

Loss and Damage

But no matter how large or small a hurricane measures on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, there is always loss and damage associated with a storm.

According to Prime Minister of The Bahamas Philip Davis, during the Caribbean Regional Heads of Government Meeting in Preparation for COP27, more than 50 percent of The Bahamas’ outstanding debt can be linked to the impacts of the hurricanes between 2015 and 2019.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in its damage and loss assessments (DaLA) synthesis, noted that The Bahamas has lost more than $4.2 billion over the past seven years as a result of Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, Irma and Dorian.

Abaco and Grand Bahama are still rebuilding from Hurricane Dorian and, although minimal, the damages from Hurricane Nicole are being assessed.

Prime Minister Davis was in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt attending COP27 when Hurricane Nicole passed through the northwestern Bahamas.  At COP27, he called on world leaders to get real about ensuring that loss and damage are compensated for.

“We do not have a significant carbon footprint in the world. Yes, we do have a significant carbon sink in the world.  But yet still, after this hurricane has passed, who’s going to have to pay for the recovery, reconstruction and for normalizing the lives of my people?” Davis said in a video interview.

Climate justice fights for solutions to the climate crisis that would result in reduced emissions and industrialized rich nations sharing the burden of the crisis by helping SIDS handle the severe effects of climate change.

Swain lost his home during Hurricane Dorian and there are others who also lost their homes and some are still living in trailers in Abaco.

Without insurance, Swain is rebuilding his home, but the progress is slow.

He explained that the Disaster Reconstruction Authority and other NGOs promised to help him, but they haven’t delivered on their promises as yet.

“We will, out of pocket, try to do some things to get us along,” Swain said.

Hurricane Dorian caused a housing shortage in Abaco and the demand for a home is great.

According to Swain, because of the demand and desperation to find a home, the rent in Abaco is skyrocketing.

“You can find the average apartment, two bedroom, going for no less than $1,500.  In some instances it’s over $2,000,” he said.

After negotiations and hearing the pleas of Small Island Developing States, COP27 closed with the announcement of a loss and damage fund to compensate countries impacted by climate change. This is a huge step in the fight for climate justice.

 

This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker’s Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.

 

Deandre Williamson

Journalist

Member, The Bahamas Press Club 2014

 

Caption:  Flooding in Abaco caused by Hurricane Nicole. (Photo/Abaco resident)

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Caribbean News

Police Academy Commissioner Shot Dead in Haiti

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#Haiti, November 29, 2022 – The police in Haiti have launched an investigation following the assassination of the director of the National Police Academy, Commissioner Rigaud Harington.

Reports from the police are that Harington was shot dead on the grounds of the police training facility in a gang-controlled neighbourhood in the country’s capital of Port-au-Prince on Friday, November 25.

The spokesperson for the National Police of Haiti (PNH), Inspector Garry Desrosiers, in confirming Friday’s killing, said the commissioner was “shot in the head not far from the Academy” and the attackers “stole his [Harington’s] vehicle and kidnapped his driver.”

Harington’s killing is the latest in several attacks against law enforcement in Haiti. The killing also happened at a time when international leaders are trying to help Haiti’s political leaders control the surge in gang violence in the country.

The police have not released any information on who might be responsible for the commissioner’s death.

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Caribbean News

St Kitts and Nevis Welcomed the World’s Largest Cruise Ship

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#StKittsandNevis, November 29, 2022 – The twin island of St Kitts and Nevis is about to chart its busiest cruise seasons yet as the world’s largest cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas, made its inaugural call to Port Zante in the country on Thursday, November 24.

About 6,495 guests arrived on the ship, with 2,259 crew members on board.

The oasis class ship was welcomed by Prime Minister Dr. Terrance Drew, who led a delegation on board last Thursday to host a brief plaque exchange ceremony.

“You have confidence in the destination by adding St Kitts and Nevis to your now largest vessel, the Wonder of the Seas, with a passenger capacity of 6,988,” the Prime Minister said.

The Chief Executive Officer at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Mr. Ellison Thompson, said the ship’s visit was a result of the country’s comprehensive negotiations with stakeholders.

“The destination’s ability to secure a vessel with a 6,495-passenger capacity today, November 24, is the result of comprehensive negotiations between the Ministry, the Authority, and cruise lines. As a result, we are gradually seeing the fruits of our marketing and strategic efforts, and we take pride in celebrating such a momentous occasion,” Thompson said.

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