By: Hon. Edwin A. Astwood
Leader of the Opposition
Leader/Peoples’ Democratic Movement
#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The PNP Government stated that “the government is considering whether it is time to switch to driving on the right-hand side of the road, as is done in the United States of America.”
Really??? As I always say “anything that the government is doing that is good for our people and our country, I will support it.” This considering changing the side of the road that we drive on in our Turks & Caicos Islands is completely not supported by me. In fact, it is extremely unwise to consider switching from driving on the left to driving on the right.
With all the current issues facing the people of the country, this PNP government now wants to put our people’s lives in danger by abruptly switching the side of the road we drive on for many decades. I see this switch causing many accidents and potential loss of lives. This change will be very difficult for people to get right. It will take a long time for people to get accustom to this.
The Honourable Premier and his PNP administration need to reverse course on this decision. I can also envision persons pulling out of corners and driving on the same side as oncoming traffic. I am almost sure that all our motor vehicle drivers subconsciously know which side to drive on in our country, and likewise subconsciously switch over to the other side whenever we touch down in the USA.
There is no need to switch which side of the road we drive on, persons are already at the liberty to choose which type of vehicle to purchase, whether right hand or left hand.
It appears that now that this government is running out of PDM initiatives that they met in the final stages before rollout, to rubber stamp and now release. In particular, with the passing of the new budget, it can clearly be seen that they have no new or life-changing to bring to the table. I ask people not to simply take my word on this, check the records on this. We are not seeing any creative insight from this government, and now that they have to think for themselves- our people are now seeing the type of policies and initiatives they are coming up with to implement; like this change of the side of the road that we drive on, and their policies that complicate the establishment of business in the country, which has their desired effect of pricing the small man out of the market.
We have many critical issues that are facing our country that needs immediate attention, such as the High Cost of living, Crime, Illegal Immigration, and Unemployment, but we see no new policies or new initiatives, or a new way of doing things. Nothing that contributes to the real advancement of our people.
Instead, we see a PNP administration that is clueless about addressing the real problems facing our country, and we all now see a failing administration that is trying to distract the people with a bombardment of press releases on novelty events and occurrences.
The Honorable Premier and his Ministers need to get on with the real work they said they came for by addressing the real issues of the country.
Hurricane Nicole – A symbol of climate injustice
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.
Member, The Bahamas Press Club 2014
Caption: Flooding in Abaco caused by Hurricane Nicole. (Photo/Abaco resident)
Police Academy Commissioner Shot Dead in Haiti
By Sherrica Thompson
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.
St Kitts and Nevis Welcomed the World’s Largest Cruise Ship
By Sherrica Thompson
#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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