#TurksandCaicos, November 10, 2023 – After outcry from Public Service Vehicle Operators, the People’s Democratic Movement is calling on the Government to adjust the Road Traffic ordinance to benefit the workers.
“The role of government is to work with the stakeholders, not against them,” said Robert Been, Deputy Party Leader in an open letter, days after a government meeting that laid down new rules for the drivers, including a requirement to retake a test they had already passed.
“The taxi drivers are also opposed to the idea of having to retake an exam for license renewal. They firmly support the notion that all previous license holders should be grandfathered in, allowing them to maintain their licenses without the need for re-examination,” he explained.
Been also echoed the drivers’ sentiments that this was unnecessary and spoke against the current laws which strip drivers of their licenses if they miss a 60-day renewal period.
“The PDM firmly believes that the proposal to cancel plates for non-compliance with the December 31st deadline each year is unduly excessive and harsh— ” he continued, “[we] are calling on the government to allow taxi operators to keep their license plates and impose a penalty/fine if the deadline is missed.”
The Deputy Leader also brought up other pressing issues he said were shared with him by operators including :
- The need for the creation of a new purpose-built Taxi Stand at the Providenciales International Airport;
- The proliferation of illegal taxis, which are not subject to the fees and regulations of registered drivers but cut into their profits;
- The proposition of a new rate system, determined not just by the traffic department, but other factors like fuel costs, maintenance expenses, and other fees associated with their business operations.
Been also called for the government to liaise with hotels so more lucrative transportation contracts could be spread around rather than with a small group of operators. He stressed too, that under the PDM, the revamp of the near 40-year-old ordinance would be a non-issue.
He said: “Under a PDM administration, we are committed to safeguarding the license plates of all taxi operators. We will implement measures to facilitate the transfer or inheritance of these plates, allowing family members the opportunity to carry on the legacy of their business.”
The Bahamas Records a “Smashing Eight Million Plus” Tourist Arrivals
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. I. Chester Cooper announced that The Bahamas has recorded a smashing eight million plus tourist arrivals.
“In 2019, a historic year for Bahamas tourism, total visitor arrivals amounted to 7.2 million. Last year, total tourist numbers matched the 2019 record year total and today we are over eight million,” the Acting Prime Minister said during a press conference and brunch at Margaritaville Beach Resort Meeting Room Ballroom on Monday, December 4, 2023.
He pointed out that the Ministry still has not counted the months of November and December.
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the explosive numbers places the country on the trajectory to continue the upward trend well into 2024.
“For the first 10 consecutive months, January to October, total air and sea arrivals were higher when compared to the same months in 2022 and in 2019 which was then, our banner year of tourism. We have now moved the goal post.”
He said, “In fact, foreign air and sea arrivals in October increased by 45.7 per cent compared to the same period in 2022 and surpassed 2019 levels by 32 per cent.”
The Acting Prime Minister explained that the US remains the top performing stopover market with the Latin American market gaining momentum in its steady return to pre-pandemic stopover levels, while increased visitor arrivals are coming from Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and as far as Australia.
He said foreign air arrivals for October year-to-date were up by 19.7 per cent for the same period last year and also surpassed 2019 levels.
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said cruise arrivals were up 54 per cent over 2022 levels and 43.2 per cent over 2019 levels.
“We estimate that direct visitor spending in the Bahamian economy as a result of these arrivals will far exceed $6 billion. That’s right, more than $6 billion of new money injected directly into the economy, and this is also up compared to 2019 and 2022.”
He also noted that the nation has seen increased airlift including first time routes.
“Last month, we welcomed the first ever direct non-stop flight by Jet Blue connecting passengers from Los Angeles to Nassau.
“In less than two weeks, Alaska Air will service four weekly flights from Los Angeles International Airport and three times weekly flights from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Nassau Lynden Pindling International Airport.”
The Acting Prime Minister said The Bahamas Government has launched a public private partnership airport infrastructural project for 14 Family Island airports to increase both domestic and international travel.
He explained that less than a year ago, the $2 million renovation was completed at Great Harbour Cay International Airport and a new terminal was opened in Ragged Island.
“More recently, a management agreement was signed by The Bahamas and Bimini Airport Development Partners Limited to renovate South Bimini Airport to the tune of $80 million.”
Acting Prime Minister Cooper said the $300 million Nassau Cruise Port renovation was completed and the port is now fully opened.
“The port already surpassed its previous record at the end of November and will host at least a projected 4.2 million cruise passengers by the end of the year, setting a new benchmark for Nassau cruise passenger arrivals.”
He also noted that the Ministry of Tourism has intensified its strategic marketing efforts and last year launched the successful “Bringing The Bahamas to You” campaign to more than 15 cities in the USA and Canada to recapture market share and generate new leads.
Deaths due to HIV/AIDS down 50 percent as World Aids Day marked Dec 1
December 5, 2023 – Deaths due to HIV/AIDS have been cut dramatically by fifty percent in the past thirteen years and on December 1, which is the annual commemoration of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization called on communities to stand up to reduce the risks even further. The 2023 theme is “Let Communities Lead” as a testament to the notion, shared by the WHO, that “we can end AIDS with communities leading the way.”
In the past five decades, treatment surrounding AIDS has increased exponentially and stigma is decreasing. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by 69% since the peak in 2004 and by 51% since 2010. In 2022, around 630,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses worldwide, compared to 2.0 million people in 2004 and 1.3 million people in 2010.
“Much more than a celebration of the achievements of communities, it is a call to action to enable and support communities in their leadership role,” the WHO encourages.
The WHO is now focused on spreading awareness about the status of the pandemic and encouraging progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care around the world.
Locally, among the events planned in the Turks and Caicos Islands is the annual Surf and Turf Horse Racing night on Friday 8th December at Opus Wine Bar and Grill, residents are invited for an evening of food, luck, and chances. All proceeds go towards the Turks and Caicos AIDS Awareness Foundation and Edward Gartland Youth Center.
New Report offers concrete data; Rising seas will DROWN Caribbean Islands
December 5, 2023 – Five percent or more of a few cities are predicted to fall permanently below sea level by the end of the Century due to the worsening effects of climate change and Kingston, Jamaica is included.
The data points to a future that should be feared as it said “coastal flooding this century will put over 70 million people in the path of expanding floodplains,” and it added that “Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are at the forefront, projected to lose significant land and critical infrastructure to permanent inundation.”
It further informs that coastal flooding has evidently increased over the past 20 years due to sea level rise, which now means that 14 million people globally live in coastal communities, faced with a 1 in 20 annual chance of flooding.
Referring to the fate of the Caribbean region, the data says that by 2100, much of the land in some Caribbean states are expected to be submerged.
“By 2100, climate change is expected to cause the submergence of a significant share of land (>5 percent) in the following Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Associate Members of United Nations Regional Commissions: Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Turks and Caicos, Tuvalu, and Seychelles,” it said.
Regarding Kingston, Jamaica’s not so bright future in the face of climate change, like many Caribbean states if measures aren’t decided on swiftly, the report highlights a “worse-case warming scenario,” pointing to the other cities that share the same fate.
“Without shoreline defenses, under a worst-case warming scenario by the end of the century, 5 percent or more of the following cities are projected to fall permanently below sea level:”
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In continuation, Climate Impact Lab in its release detailing the findings, features the words of Pedro Conceição, Director of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office, saying that this ongoing climate crisis, specifically the rising of sea levels given the context, will cause a setback in years of human development.
“The effects of rising sea levels will put at risk decades of human development progress in densely populated coastal zones which are home to one in seven people in the world,” he maintained.
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