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Fury of Fiona leaves Turks and Caicos virtually unscathed

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, September 30, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos breathed a heavy sigh of relief, recognizing with the passage of major category three Hurricane Fiona, the archipelago had been miraculously spared serious damage.  Hurricane Fiona, which is blamed for 27 deaths across the Atlantic Basin, devastated larger nations from September 16-24 to the tune of $12 Billion.

Fiona wreaked havoc on Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Canada leaving millions without electricity and dozens homeless. There was intense flooding in Puerto Rico and the entire island lost power, landslides and flooding damaged homes in the DR and whole seaside homes washed out to sea in Canada where Fiona lashed five Atlantic provinces.

In spite of being hit by the hurricane at category three strength, The Turks and Caicos has only minimal damage to report, according to Premier Washington Misick.

“Early assessment indicates that well hit by a category three hurricane the Turks and Caicos suffered level-one damage which is a credit to the state of our preparedness and the credibility of our infrastructure.”

Misick also credited the country’s resilience to the careful planning of the islands emergency response and the flawless execution by Deputy Governor Anya Williams and her team as well as the upgraded infrastructure installed post Irma and Maria

While the Turks and Caicos is still recovering, according to Governor Nigel Dakin the crisis period has in the rear view mirror of the islands now.

Once the all-clear was given, the main airport, the Providenciales International Airport (PLS) was reopened to air travel. A week after the storm, all airports and ferries were operational again. Digital connection was mostly restored as was electricity.

At the start of this week, Governor Dakin said information shared in recovery meetings exposed the bruises caused by Hurricane Fiona included severe damaged to the one mile causeway linking North and Middle Caicos.

Poles were also laid flat in the hurricane’s 150mph winds.

“Ninety-five of customers across the country now have electricity after Hurricane Fiona,” said FortisTCI, the nation’s electricity provider in its fifth report on restoration work.

At that time, Middle Caicos stood at 55 percent with power back on, once the causeway was cleared of debris. Bambarra and Lorimers on the island, were among the last to get electricity.  FortisTCI reported on Friday September 30, both settlements were reconnected.

“At 11:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 29, Middle Caicos now has 96 percent of customers restored.  The majority of customers in Bambarra and Lorimers now have electricity.  Only a small pocket of customers were pending restoration at the time.  The focus has been to energize both settlements via Conch Bar’s electricity generation unit, while crews rebuild damaged sections of the main transmission and distribution network.”

The Governor also updated on the cruise ship industry.  He explained Carnival Cruises, after addressing the damage, set a potential opening date for October 4th, pushed back from Thursday September 29 as was listed on the Grand Turk Cruise Centre website.

Students in Grand Turk and the sister islands were able to start attending school by Monday September 26th a week after Fiona and the resulting outages.

Ten days after the storm, FortisTCI has restored connectivity to 99.3 percent of customers across the country. Grand Turk residents were the hardest hit and as of Thursday night, some 95 percent are back online.

The electricity restoration now speeds up reconnections and repairs with FlowTCI, on September 28 the telecoms company gave an update on Grand Turk and North Caicos.

“Fixed broadband for all Flow business customers has been successfully restored. A few customers’ services remain impacted due to a lack of commercial power,” said Flow about Grand Turk, for North Caicos, “The realignment of link between our Minorca Hill and Stubbs Road has been successfully completed.  Teams were deployed in North Caicos today (September 28) to focus on restoring fibre connectivity to residential customers and bringing First Caribbean Bank ABM services back online.”

Digicel, less than 48 hours after the hurricane, reported that all of its networks were running, hampered only by customers who were waiting on electricity restoration.  Digicel, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 decided to migrate to an underground network, which went unaffected in the passage of recent Hurricane Fiona.

Humanitarian support was also immediately available to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  With both the Governor and Premier out of the country, due to the State Funeral and National Security meetings in the United Kingdom, it was handy having the TCI Regiment and UK soldiers on hand to led military-styled assistance.

Co-chairs of the National Emergency Operations Center, Anya Williams (acting) Governor and E. Jay Saunders, (acting) Premier were part an aerial reconnaissance mission thanks to the HMS Medway; its helicopter allowed a birds eye view of the damage done by the storm.

The intel gain guided clean-up and allowed the leaders to connect with islanders who faced the most ferocious part of the storm, this included Salt Cay.

Despite the fairly swift recovery Governor Nigel Dakin reminds that the season is not yet over and residents should prepare for a potential second encounter, praying for the best while expecting the worst.

Since then, Hurricanes Gaston, Hermine and Ian have formed.  Ian, which grew to near category five strength over the state of Florida, is now blamed for 21 deaths, has left 2.5 million in the dark and as the surge waters subside, US President Joe Biden pledged full support to rebuild.

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Invest Turks and Caicos’ Business Support Unit Partners with RBC (Royal Bank) Bahamas Ltd. and CIBC FirstCaribbean to host Financial Literacy for MSMEs Training

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Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, December 5th, 2023 – Invest Turks and Caicos’ Business Support Unit, in conjunction with partners RBC (Royal Bank) Bahamas Ltd. and CIBC FirstCaribbean, successfully conducted a comprehensive Financial Literacy for MSMEs Training at the Blue Haven Resort on November 28th, 2023. This initiative aimed to empower business owners with essential insights into financial statements, the significance of meticulous recordkeeping, and the specific requirements outlined by leading banks for prospective commercial clients. Attended by fifteen participants comprising both established business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, the session proved to be a pivotal learning experience.

Ms. Shanice Williams, the proprietor of LLS Consulting, expressed her appreciation, stating, “I extend my gratitude for putting together an exceptional training session. The presenters delivered a wealth of well-digested information that has proven highly valuable for me and my recently established business. I’m delighted to have been part of this and eagerly anticipate future sessions.”

Mrs. Nancy Missick-Rolle, CEO of Executive Tours, shared her positive experience, “I found the training very beneficial for improving my financial literacy. The presenters were well-versed and articulate in their delivery, making the material relatable and extremely practical. The BSU did an excellent job managing the event and advising the group of the programs and services available for assistance.”

Ms. Shanice Swann, Interim Branch, and Country Manager at RBC (Royal Bank) Bahamas Ltd. expressed her pleasure in facilitating the training seminar. She stated, “It was a pleasure to facilitate a training seminar on the topic of financial statements in conjunction with the Business Support Unit at Invest TCI. This session was an enriching experience that entailed engaging with vibrant small and medium-sized businesses within the islands and cherishing their invaluable feedback on the topic. A popular quote that sticks with me is, ‘Success is not always about greatness, but it is contingent on consistency.’ The participation of business owners in seminars like these solidifies their unwavering dedication to sculpting a consistent path toward success.”

Curley Been, Manager, Business Banking, CIBC FirstCaribbean, stated, “Participating in the Financial Literacy for MSMEs on November 28th, 2023, was truly enjoyable. In our dynamic economy, there are more opportunities than ever for individuals to become business owners and contribute to TCI’s growth. Understanding how to navigate this entrepreneurial journey, secure financing, and achieve growth is crucial for business success. As a representative of CIBC FirstCaribbean, I felt honored to present on the topic of ‘Making Your Business Bankable’ for both existing self-employed individuals and upcoming new business owners. We trust that the insights shared were beneficial to all attendees and eagerly anticipate future collaborations with InvestTCI on upcoming events.”

Mrs. Anissa Adderley, Director of the Business Support Unit, underscored the significance of partnerships between financial institutions and MSMEs. She stated, “The importance of partnerships between financial institutions and MSMEs cannot be underestimated. We are delighted to have partnered with RBC and CIBC FirstCaribbean to provide our MSMEs with this informative, interactive, and impactful training that will benefit their businesses and help them make more informed business decisions. MSMEs must prioritize financial education to allow them to reap the maximum benefits for both their businesses and the wider economy. MSMEs are the lifeline of our economy, and ensuring that they are resilient and sustainable is our core objective.”

The BSU invites business owners to take advantage of its face-to-face and e-learning training programs. The training is offered free of charge, and the information provided is vital to ensuring the success of their businesses. For further details, please contact the BSU at (649) 338-4787 or via bsu@investturksandcaicos.tc.

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Health

Combined Team of Ministry of Health and TCI Hospital personnel attend United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) Workshop in Anguilla.   

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#TurksandCaicos, December 10, 2023 – A combined team of Ministry of Health and Human Services (MoHHS) and TCI Hospital personnel recently represented the Turks and Caicos Islands at a three-day UKHSA AMS Workshop, which was held in Anguilla between November 29th and December 1st, 2023. The team included Mrs. Winsome Hayles-Parker – Lead Medical Technologist in Microbiology, TCI Hospital, Mr. Andre Morgan – National Pharmacist, MoHHS and Ms. Arlene Siebs – Director of the National Public Health Laboratory, MoHHS. The workshop was well attended by physicians, pharmacists and laboratory personnel who hailed from the United Kingdom, St. Helena, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman and Montserrat.

The workshop involved both laboratory and non-laboratory sessions. The laboratory sessions were practical sessions that were geared toward the diagnostic technologies used by the various UKOTs in the detection of antimicrobial-resistant (AMR) pathogens and the use of BioFire in diagnostics. Most territories are now equipped with the BioFire Assay Technology, which forms part of the laboratory setup for molecular resistance markers.

The non-laboratory sessions included parallel professional development sessions on topics including AMS, the use of the MicroGuide antibiotic prescribing App, antibiotic surveillance, situational analysis of AMS in the UKOTs and AMS accreditation. Importantly, the attendees were able to discuss case presentations on clinical management and infection prevention and control.

In providing comments, Ms. Siebs stated, “Medical Laboratory Scientists must continue to improve their skills and competency as we work together in combatting AMR through laboratory services. I was thrilled at having the opportunity to compare disc susceptibility testing with automated analysers for the detection of antimicrobial resistance in microorganisms.”  

Mrs. Hayles-Parker believes that “the information gathered will be of value in helping us in the TCI to uphold the standards on AMS and in the long term with the fight against AMR. As we move forward as change agents, we are better able to assist with safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the people of the TCI.”

Mr. Morgan concluded that “the three-day workshop was a major success and I am excited to utilise the information acquired in strengthening the TCI’s National Action Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance, which will, in turn, develop and strengthen antimicrobial stewardship in the Turks and Caicos Islands. I hope that these advances will continue to safeguard against this emerging AMR global threat by implementing strategies that will ensure sustainable pharmaceutical care for the present and future.

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Bahamas News

BMMC Groundbreaking is evidence that all Bahamians can thrive, says PM

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FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis on Thursday, December 7 noted the company is a “beacon of national pride” and evidence that all Bahamians can thrive, when giving the keynote address at a ceremony for Bahamas Mineral and Manufacturing Corporation Ltd., at the company’s site on Queen’s Highway.

The Groundbreaking and Cornerstone Laying Ceremony were held at BMMC Ltd. grounds on Queen’s Highway where the headquarters for the new establishment will be.

He said two companies manufacturing pipes, one in Grand Bahama and one in Nassau, have gone out of business, and added that this one will not. Once the company can meet the demand, it will be too costly for businesses to import the product due to tariffs.

The government is committed to assisting young entrepreneurs like Mitchell Thurston by providing the necessary tools to ensure they are not alone on their journey to success.

“This approach is not just an investment in individuals, but an investment in the very fabric of our nation’s economy and future.”

With the company being 100 percent Bahamian owned, and “perfectly aligned with our governments Blueprint for Change,” he said, “by reducing reliance on PVC products and establishing a local production facility, BMMC is not only supporting Bahamian infrastructure, but also aligning with the nation’s environmental sustainability goals.”

The ceremony heralds a future where industry and economy are strengthened.

“Grand Bahama” said the Prime Minister, “must and will be the blueprint for growth and development.”

He added, “It is a stepping stone towards a brighter, more sustainable and prosperous future for The Bahamas and all Bahamians.”

Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey described the day as “grand” in being present for the groundbreaking and cornerstone laying for the state-of-the-art facility which will “revolutionize the construction and manufacturing industries” throughout the country, especially Grand Bahama.

“This new venture envisions opening doors to innovative learning for our students, innovative careers and jobs for Bahamians and spin-off opportunities for new and existing businesses.”

She added that innovation is “critical to the growth and sustainability of our island’s economy. This is why Grand Bahama has been deemed the Home of Innovation in our Blueprint for Change.”

BMMC’s president, Mitchell Thurston, said the project was two years and eight months in the making. Grand Bahama is the perfect location for their headquarters because of the affordability and availability of land; reliable infrastructure; and the proximity to the Container Port, the gateway to the global market.

To date, 13 jobs have been created and filled and through subcontracts throughout the various phases, it is anticipated that 80 jobs will be available during the construction phase. It is hoped they will be able to have a workforce of 33 skilled and unskilled labourers.

Additionally, BMMC will introduce a cadet programme in the Grand Bahama schools, and the top students will be offered jobs to join their team.
Also present were members of the Board of Directors, shareholders of the company led by President Mitchell Thurston, along with representatives from the Grand Bahama Port Authority, Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, family and friends all of whom gathered for the occasion.

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