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Crushing Homes, Crushing Hearts; Illegal Constructions must go

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Dana Malcolm with Deandrea Hamilton

Editorial Staff

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 6, 2023 – The first tangible presence of the Informal Settlements Unit (ISU) that many residents would’ve been introduced to was on the 24th and 23rd of March when videos of the first demolitions of so called ‘shanty towns’ were shared by those on site.

Amidst the accolades for action against unauthorized constructions, the crestfallen wails of affected residents which can be heard in the background present a dramatic flip side of the story.

Despite the emotional dynamics and his “great” empathy with those who were affected, Carlos Simons, KC who heads the new Informal Settlement Unit says the process is without a doubt necessary.

“You can see in the pictures and some of the videos it’s just heartbreaking and you wish you didn’t have to engage in these exercises. But if the TCI is going to develop in a way that we want it to, we have to do what we are doing.”

The Turks and Caicos is desperate for land, Crown Land in government hands and thus the hands of the public is down to 23 percent  and if TCIG cannot find the space to build 600 homes a year, the country will enter a dire housing crisis.

The mandate of the ISU is to decide how unplanned settlements, already standing and occupied, are to be contained and the proliferation of these communities will be stopped.  Simons assures that building structures whether in open defiance or ignorance of the Planning laws will be torn down; legally and humanely.

It’s not just as simple as occupying land though. Simons says there are serious dangers to building without permits.

“It presents all sorts of problems, including health, security, and a whole range.”

He along with Dr. Virginia Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary in the National Security Secretariat described the dangers including the challenges presented to first responders like Police of Ambulance when it comes to navigating these uncharted areas.  These areas provide cover for criminals and poorly constructed homes become a risk to everyone surrounding as they are often unable to withstand hurricanes – all of which are dangers posed by these settlements.

“Think of the implications when sewage cannot be disposed of properly or when emergency services cannot reach you,” he said.

Under the watchful eye of the Human Rights Commission and other agencies who all accompany the ISU to sites, Simons is confident that the informal settlements unit is carrying out these activities with as much consideration as is possible.

The former Supreme Court Judge made it clear that the Human Rights Commission has raised no objection to the demolitions.

Simons doubled down on the mission; saying the unflinching decision to bulldoze any unauthorized construction sends an important message about how the Turks and Caicos Islands will be developed.

“We want the people engaging in this to understand that this is not something that they should be engaged in. It may last for a while but it will bring grief.”

Government

TCI GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCES JUDICIAL APPOINTMENT

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#TurksandCaicos, May 21, 2024 – Ms. Patricia Arana has been sworn in on13 May 2024 as Resident Magistrate, Grand Turk.  She first joined the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands as Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court in April 2022.

Prior to taking up the position of Registrar of the Magistrate’s Court, she was the Deputy Registrar General at the Supreme Court of her native Belize in Belize City. She started her judicial career as a Magistrate in 2010 and was promoted to the position of Senior Magistrate in 2015. As Senior Magistrate, she worked in several districts in Belize, and acted as Chief Magistrate on several occasions.  She was also within that period, seconded for two years as Legal Counsel to the Financial Intelligence Unit of Belize.

Ms. Arana is a graduate of the University of the West Indies where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) Degree, and a graduate of the Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica, where she obtained her Legal Education Certificate. There she distinguished herself when she received the H.H. Dunn Memorial Prize for Legal Drafting and Interpretation.

Regionally, Ms. Arana currently serves as an Executive Member of the Caribbean Association of Judicial Officers (CAJO) on behalf of the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands. She is also an active member of the Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ), and the National Garifuna Council (NGC) Orange Walk Branch.

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, Ms. Arana has since her appointment in 2022, served in various capacities: ADR Administrator and lately a member of the Mediation Committee, a member of the Breach Process Rules Committee, Justice of the Peace Vetting Panel, Justice of the Peace Disciplinary Panel, and Election Adjudicator.

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Government

US CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2024 – The Governor’s Office can confirm that Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and the Honourable Premier Charles Washington Misick will this morning receive a US Congressional delegation, who have requested a meeting to discuss the recent arrests of US nationals for possession of ammunition offences.

The US delegation, which arrived yesterday evening, was met by Protocol officials and is due to depart this afternoon.

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Government

PDM 10 All-Island Candidates a Surprising Slate dubbed ‘the Avengers’

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

The Turks and Caicos Islands need saving according to Edwin Astwood, Opposition Leader and he’s assembled his ‘Avengers’ to do it; a team of 10 district candidates who were unveiled on Monday, May 6 to contest the 2025 general elections. 

“We the PDM want to be those champions for you. We want to be your avenging team to lift the country back up,” said Astwood who is the incumbent for ED 2, Grand Turk South.

The Candidates in question were all allowed to speak:

ED 1 Grand Turk North candidate George Lightbourne, former PNP member and minister now stands ratified by the PDM and said “I am fully aware of the issues affecting our people and fully prepared to tackle them.”

ED 3 South Caicos candidate Hynetta ‘Karen’ Forbes made a vow, “To you the people of South Caicos I promise to be a positive change and an advocate for empowerment for all— to make up for the lack and neglect we have endured over the years.”

ED 4 candidate, contesting North and Middle Caicos, Denaz Williams said “I believe in good representation so try me and I guarantee you will love me.”

ED 5 Leeward and Long Bay hopeful Keith Cox said “I want to make sure my efforts go to the betterment of Leeward and Long Bay, it’s time for a change.”

ED 6 candidate for The Bight, Audric Skippings, who returns from his loss in 2021 said “I pledge to be the voice of the people, the driving force behind positive change, and the chairman of progress in our district.”

ED 7 candidate for Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill, is Rose Higgs who swore  “I am committed to serve as someone committed to changing politics and how some politicians behave after we elect them into power, I am your Beacon of Hope, I am going to parliament!”

ED 8 Blue Hills candidate Anthony Walkin maintained “The ideas I have for the constituency will change Blue Hills— no longer will you be suffering” he swore. 

ED 9 candidate for Five Cays, popular firebrand church pastor and businessman is how many know the energetic Bryant Cox, now approved on the PDM ticket he promised “ED9 it’s our time, I stand before you a man of action ready to work for you.”

Finally, ED 10 candidate for Wheeland Vaden Delroy Williams, who lost to newcomer Kyle  Knowles, now-Minister of Public Safety and Utilities by only a few votes in 2021, said “I am back because you have asked me to come back—because of the love I have for my people…”

They join the already announced all-island candidate team of Robert Been, Ruth Ariza, Karen Malcolm, Sean Astwood, and Ralph Higgs.

Sean Astwood, the former Five Cays members and deputy premier in the Sharlene Robinson administration, had missed the PDM’s all-island slate announcement on March 22; during the constituency candidates roll out had his say.

“Returning to politics was not an easy decision for me and I didn’t make it lightly— I came back because I believe we have a responsibility to stand up for what is right,” said Astwood.

Opposition Leader Edwin Astwood was especially excited to unveil the array of candidates having been the sole elected representative for the past four years. 

“Being in the fight alone these three and a half years wasn’t easy— I was in this battle alone but now you gave me 15 people, they had trouble when it was just me so imagine now with this team coming,” he exclaimed.

Astwood was the only PDM representative to be re-elected in February 2021 when the current PNP Administration gave them a historic walloping, storming their way to victory 14 to 1. Seven of those 2021 candidates including the party’s leader have returned to fight again in the upcoming elections which are constitutionally due in early 2025.

Ezra Taylor, National Party Chairman is convinced that the ‘rescue team’ will serve the Turks and Caicos to its fullest potential.

“Real representation, meritocracy, and honest engagement with our people will be the order of the day in the governance of the Turks and Caicos islands,” he continued “Our candidates embody the values that define us as a country, integrity, compassion, and a relentless dedication to the common good.”

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