Connect with us


Dump Fire leads to Smoggy start to Commonwealth Day for thousands in Providenciales



Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 


#TurksandCaicos, March 21, 2024 – Monday, March 12 dawned bleak and smoggy in areas of Providenciales because of the effects of a massive fire at the dump over the weekend.  It’s been described as an “environmental disaster,” by residents enduring the blanketing smoke and is also labelled, ‘one of the worst’ instances of fire and resulting smoke in the area.

It was a hotspot, discovered by a team from the Environmental Health Department that caused the blaze.

”The fire originated from a fire extinguishing exercise and was triggered by a hotspot flare up. During the early morning on Saturday, March 9, 2024, TCI Green Ecological Corporation Limited, the new management company of the solid waste management facility, identified a hotspot flare up in the northwestern area of the landfill site. Swift action was taken by alerting the Domestic Fire Service and other supporting agencies to contain the situation,” said Kyle Knowles Minister for Public Safety and Utilities and Member of Parliament for Wheeland and West Caicos around 12:30 p.m. Monday.

By that time the smoke was thankfully clearing, but the morning and the night before had been horrific for residents.

“The struggle is real,” one resident said, “driving through the smoke this morning— people who live in Phase Two, I feel for you all this morning. I live all the way in the back (of the housing subdivision) and I can smell it. With the dew and smoke this morning that means you all can taste it. For anybody with respiratory problems, God be with y’all. ”

The resident inferred the possibility that the cool wet early morning air was trapping the smoke. It’s not hard to imagine that the Monday morning phenomenon was smog, a fog made heavier and thicker by smoke or chemicals.

Photos were shared of the black low hanging smoke literally blanketing roadways and smothering shrubs and bushes.

Other residents were shocked at the reach of the smog and concerned about vulnerable residents’ health .

“This is the worst it has ever been. Blankets of thick, dense, awful smelling smoke have covered both phases. The toxic smoke will definitely affect the quality of life for the people in this community,” said a resident.

Medical complaints quickly arose  as well.

“This needs to be a major headline mainly because of the health implications on young children and the elderly—Coughing, burning eyes, serious respiratory problems,” our team was told.

The affected area was widespread, reports from residents implicated, Chicken Shack; Phase Two; Millenium Highway; Blue Hills; Downtown; Five Cays and Phase One.

“The EHD wishes to advise the residents of Providenciales, especially those living in the Wheeland Phase 2 area, that the Department and TCI Green Ecological are urgently addressing the current fire at the disposal site with the assistance of all stakeholders. As of this Press Release, the fire has been approximately 85% contained. Residents are reminded to keep doors and windows closed to avoid any potential exposure to smoke while the fire is being brought under control,” said the Department of Environmental Health just before 1 p.m. on Monday.

TCI Green Ecological Corporation, the new managers of the Dump who took over just under a week ago, on Tuesday March 5th, had issued a statement on Sunday.

“Yesterday morning, at approximately 7:00 am, our team detected a hotspot flare-up in the northwestern section of the landfill. We acted promptly, alerting emergency services, and initiating our containment procedures. The situation was brought under control with the assistance of Environmental Health and supportive local agencies.Thanks to the collaborative efforts of all involved, the landfill resumed operations the next day.”

Despite the assurances, residents were furious with the situation.

Minister Knowles pleaded with residents for understanding, reminding them that extinguishing services were not a one off and the exercises would continue until June as scheduled.

”Ongoing extinguishing and remediation activities should be anticipated. However, every effort will be made to minimize and promptly address any potential effects such as hotspot flare ups, which could escalate into larger fires.”

The government has not given any indication on how it will handle any medical claims arising from the fire which is only the latest in years of similar experiences.


Opposition Leader strong admonition to New RBC Manager



Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, May 29, 2024 – The Opposition has proposed to the new Managing Director of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), that the institution open new branches in the Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI), with services that can lead to financial inclusion.

Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Edwin Astwood says while the Managing Director has his welcome to the TCI, he said a meeting she had with significant Government officials, has been keenly noted, especially for RBC’s involvement in funding key Government projects, and for “talks to progress further than this, I believe the discussion on Financial Inclusion must take place.

“Providing much-needed access to banking services to individuals and businesses in our underserved communities. This can help improve financial literacy and access to financial products for the family islands population outside of Providenciales,” the Opposition Leader said in a statement.

He added that a discussion on Supporting Economic Development, must also be on the table, as a “caring Government” would have been soliciting the respective bank for more access to capital for the people on TCI-owned businesses, stressing that the Opposition is cognizant of the fact that by offering small to medium-sized business loans, banks can support entrepreneurship and economic development in communities throughout the TCI.

Further, he said access to capital is crucial for small businesses to start and grow, and by providing loans, banks can help stimulate local economic activity and job creation, underscoring that when banks invest in rural districts through branches and business loans, they contribute to the overall growth and prosperity of the community.

“Small businesses are often the backbone of rural economies, and by supporting them, banks can help these communities thrive. I believe that banks doing business should be concerned about Building Customer Relationships. Opening branches in our family islands and underserved communities of Providenciales and providing business loans can help banks build long-term relationships with customers,” he said

He argued that by being present in the community and supporting local businesses, banks can establish trust and loyalty among residents, which can lead to increased customer retention and satisfaction.

Mr. Astwood in his strident statement, said citizens deserve better from banking institutions, and the people of Providenciales where the banks are located deserve better, and “our people in the family islands deserve better, therefore the TCI deserves better, and that is a PDM Government who will work to foster a healthy and inclusive financial system that includes serving the interests of all our people in all our islands,” he said.

Continue Reading


Norman B Saunders Airport Opens, opportunities touted by Gov’t



Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer


#TurksandCaicos, May 29, 2024 – Employment and business opportunities are now looming in the South Caicos, and Government officials are urging young people, along with entrepreneurs to prepare themselves and maximise the openings.

Speaking at the renaming of the of South Caicos Airport to the Norman B. Saunders Snr. International Airport, Deputy Governor, Hon. Anya Williams said the Government is diversifying the economy, and expanding tourism to all the outer islands.

“You have to be part of that. For this airport to operate as an international airport, we need additional staff. We will need immigration officers, custom officers, fire officers, and we will need other staff,” the Deputy Governor said.

She added that the Government is providing small grants, assistance in preparing business plans, and technical advice for the setting up of “your businesses. Prepare to come back home because your island will need you,” she told her audience.

The Deputy Governor noted that having had the opportunity to work with Mr. Saunders, she found him to be a great “encourager, and someone who is so smart and articulate,” and always take the opportunity to “grant wisdom” to others, and “I developed so much respect” for the former Parliamentarian, she said.

For Premier, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, the new airport is a catalyst for progress, as the Government has signed an agreement with American Airline, while major resorts are entering the area, and “plans are afoot to have an activity here, that you have never seen before in South Caicos,” he said.

Declaring that young people should “get ready,” the Premier said, “this is your moment, so, South Caicos, I want you to appreciate what you see here, I want you to treat it properly and well, and all of you, young people should strive to leave a positive legacy,” as Mr. Saunders has done, he said.

Mr. Misick also said Mr. Saunders who became Chief Minister of the Turks Caicos Islands (TCI), from 1980-1985, with responsibility, among other things, as well as  Immigration, Fisheries, Civil Aviation, went “above and beyond the call of duty,” in the performance of his duties, and “we are all better for it. Naming this airport in his honour, is only a very small token” of the recognition he should be given, the Premier said.

In his response, Mr. Saunders said he enjoyed all the moments in public live, and “we believe that South Caicos will be the next big spot, and area for tourism. I trust that this place will be the gateway to other islands, and I am confident that everything I did, was for the benefit of this country,” he said.

Continue Reading

Caribbean News

A King and High Level Speakers open SIDS Conference in Antigua & Barbuda



Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer


#Antigua, May 29, 2024 – The Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda is hosting the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which seeks to build resilience, and find solutions to the pressing challenges of debt burden, and to achieve sustainable development goals.

Opened on Monday, in St. Johns, under the theme, “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity,” the Conference which run from May 27 to 30, had addresses from 33 countries, where speakers pressed the need for actions on financing for Climate emergency, and crises such as spiraling debt, and health challenges.

Speaking via video link, King Charles III, said island nations are leading the way in confronting Climate Change, protecting biodiversity, and stewarding the global Ocean, while pointing out that there is potential for large investors to contribute to Climate financing, and the benefits of collaboration among SIDS. The King also called for “bold action” and said “your future is our future.”

Host Prime Minister, Gaston Browne told his audience that SIDS face unprecedented global challenges, that they did not create, and “large-scale polluters” bear responsibility for compensation, as he called for ending fossil subsidies.

The Prime Minister also called for   the establishment of the Commission of Small Island States (COSIS) and the recent unanimous advisory opinion from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), which affirmed the legal duty of state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to mitigate Climate impacts to protect the marine environment.

In the Caribbean region, PM Browne has been at the forefront of advocacy to develop a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that truly reflects SIDS needs for development finance, and Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados has spearheaded the Bridgetown Initiative to transform lending and provide inclusive, resilient finance to countries facing Climate crises.

Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Philip Davis urged the SIDS Conference to support a new global tax treaty to be negotiated and for financial flows to be regulated to ease the crippling debt burden impeding many SIDS from fully developing their potential.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General António Guterres aid SIDS stands as a test case for Climate and financial justice, and called on all countries to align with the 1.5°C Climate targets, and for Climate finance to double by 2025, and for significant contributions to the Loss and Damage Fund. “SIDS can make an almighty noise together to deliver meaningful change to benefit the whole of humankind,” he said.

Many SIDS remain dependent on imported fossil fuels, curtailing both their environmental and economic efforts. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), some SIDS would need an investment of around US $5.9 billion annually to achieve their renewable energy targets by 2030 and reduce their fossil-fuel dependency.

The COVID-19 pandemic deepened existing fragilities and triggered the most acute economic contraction across SIDS, increasing their debt burden and depleting resources. Over 40 per cent of SIDS are now on the edge of or are already grappling with unsustainable levels of debt. Between 2000 and 2019, the external debt of SIDS rose by 24 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The total public debt for SIDS now stands at approximately US $82 billion dollars.

Continue Reading