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The Truth about Heaving Down Rock, the National Trust Vs Lew1 Shipping  

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By Hon. Ralph Higgs

 

As humans, it is very easy to forget what the past looked like when we struggle with today’s challenges. Lately, I’ve been reminiscing about the time that I served as the Member of Parliament for North and Middle Caicos from 2016 to 2021. Alongside my dedicated PDM colleagues, we poured our hearts into making life better for the constituents of ED4 and the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Among the many projects we championed, the transformation of Heaving Down Rock in Leeward, Providenciales, stands out vividly in my memory.

Heaving Down Rock has always been more than just a loading point for mariners; it is a symbol of our rich heritage and the spirit of our people. However, before the improvements, the PNP government was comfortable with Heaving Down Rock being nothing but a quarry loading dock, devoid of basic facilities. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the PNP government gave this public property to a party supporter prioritizing personal connections over the public good. Thankfully, that supporter donated it to the National trust after the public got wind of it.

Today, as a result of the work under my Ministry and the PDM Administration, the Heaving Down Rock facility is comfortably used and enjoyed by the commuters of Pine and Parrot Cay, aquatic operators, and cargo and ferry services. The facility is even casually used by individuals and groups for relaxation or fishing.

As we navigate the present and look toward the future, it is crucial to remember these lessons. Our progress from 2016 to 2021 shows what can be achieved with dedication and a genuine commitment to the people’s welfare.

As a proud Turks and Caicos Islander, who has always held the country’s best interest at heart, I can assure you that I will continue to build on our progress.

The impasse that currently exists between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping is nothing short of a national crisis which has serious and direct implications for the people and businesses on North and Middle Caicos and all the cays in between.

This PNP government should not have allowed it to come to this point. They must intervene forthwith to rectify this situation. It is impractical, if not impossible for Lew1 shipping to operate from South Dock. It will increase the already high freight between Providenciales, Pine and Parrot Cay, North and Middle Caicos by at least three (3) fold. And as most of the journey now would be on the high seas; the ocean, there could be many days when the sea is too rough for Lew1 to travel from South Dock to North Caicos and the islands in between. Thereby making a bad situation even worse.

When I was in office, on many ocassions, the National Trust had proposed increasing the cost to Lew1 Shipping out of Heaving Down Rock. Me and my government resisted as we could not support any higher freight on the backs of the people and businesses of our islands. There were also several ocassions when the National Trust sought to close down Lew1 Shipping operations for non-payment. But again, me and my government intervened. We made sure negotiations continued between Lew1 Shipping and National Trust to prevent any disruption in the  important service that Lew1 Shipping provides to the family islands.

Successsive governments have provided subsidies to local airlines that operate between our islands. They have also provided subsidies for the ferry to run between Salt Cay and Grand Turk. Most recently, the government wrote off almost $2M worth of debt owning to TCIG by these airlines. The time has perhaps comes for the governement to look at the situation that currently exists between Lew1 Shipping and the National Trust. Surely, it could insist that the two parties negotiate a settlement to this matter while it considers a path to settle the debt owing to the National Trust by Lew1 Shipping.

The National Trust is a quasi-government entity and it raises funds through fees levied on users of our national parks and facilities such as Heaving Down Rock etc. Historcially, the National Trust has been poorly subvented and it has been responsible for raising up to 60% of its budget. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the last meaningful increase which the National Trust received to its subvention came under the former PDM administration. This PNP government has not not seen it fit to increase the National Trust subvention in any direct meaningful way. I am reliably informed that the staff of the National Trust did not even benefit from the increase in salaries that this government implemented a few months ago.

I am certain that the current situation between the National Trust and Lew1 Shipping didn’t happen in a vacuum, neither did it happen overnight. The fact that this government could allow the lifeline of North and Middle Caicos and the resort islands of Parrot Cay and Pine Cay to be cut demonstrates the lack of appreciation for value that Lew1 shipping brings to these islands and they simply do not care of about the struggles at the people and businesses face on daily basis.  I am sincerely and respectfully urging the government to order the National Trust to allow Lew1 Shipping to resume operations forthwith and to commence the necessary arrangements to write-off this small debt of approximately of $100,000 which represents about 4 years worth of fees that is owed to the National Trust  by Lew1 Shipping and to find an amicable way to address the other concerns raised by the National Trust.

 

 

Contact Details:

Ralph Higgs

Tel: 649.232.3917

Email: ralphhiggs46@gmail.com

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Tim and Henry to the Rescue: A Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Highlights Need for Marine Vessel in Grand Turk

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#TurksandCaicos, July 12, 2024 – At approximately 2:45 pm on July 12th, a 911 emergency call came in from the police department in Grand Turk, informing Ed Forbes of a distressing situation. Four young adult tourists had gone out on paddle boards off Cork Tree Beach in Grand Turk, when one of them fell off the board and could not get back on. Evidently, they underestimated the wind speed and their own brute strength.

Ed Forbes, co-owner of Exclusive Escapes Grand Turk, played a pivotal role in coordinating the rescue. Responding swiftly to the emergency call, he immediately reached out to the local search and rescue team. His prompt actions and calm demeanor were instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources.

Within 20 minutes or so, Tim from Emerald Escapes, along with Henry and Kindry from Blue Water Divers, were on the scene. Their experience and swift response were crucial in ensuring the safety of the stranded paddleboarders. Working seamlessly together, they managed to locate and rescue all four individuals without any need for medical attention.

However, this incident also underscores a critical issue that has long plagued Grand Turk: the need for a dedicated marine vessel for search and rescue operations and cruise passengers incidents. Despite numerous promises made to concerned citizens over the years, this vital resource remains unavailable.

The swift response of Tim, Henry, and Kingdry highlights the community’s resilience and dedication, but it also brings to light the gaps in emergency preparedness that could be addressed with better equipment and support.

A dedicated marine vessel would significantly enhance the efficiency and safety of rescue operations, ensuring that responses to such emergencies are even more effective.

Ed Forbes
Concerned Citizen

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Invest TCI Opens New Office in Grand Turk

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – July 11th, 2024—Invest Turks and Caicos Islands (Invest TCI) proudly announces the launch of its new office in Grand Turk, located at the Digicel Building on Old Airport Road. The grand opening of the new location occurred on Friday, July 5th, 2024, under the theme “Empowering Enterprises in the Capital.”

The establishment of the new office marks a significant milestone in Invest TCI’s growth strategy. The primary objective of the expansion is to provide enhanced services and support to the business community in Grand Turk. By increasing operational capacity, Invest TCI aims to facilitate sustained growth and success for enterprises within the country.  Beyond economic advancement, this initiative is set to yield substantial community benefits, including the creation of employment opportunities.

The grand opening ceremony attracted a diverse range of attendees, including recipients of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) programme, members of the business community, government officials, and Invest TCI staff. The event was moderated by Mr. Keno Forbes, Vice President of Investor Services. Special remarks were delivered by the Premier, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, who congratulated the InvestTCI team on their hard work and encouraged the community to take advantage of the benefits offered by the new office. He reiterated the government’s commitment to creating a supportive environment for businesses in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Additional remarks were provided by Invest TCI Chairperson, Ms. Cindy Ewing; Business Advisor, Ms. Lashena Simmons; Director of the Business Support Unit, Mrs. Anissa Adderley; and Vice President of SME, Ms. Alexa Cooper. Their contributions highlighted the collaborative effort and dedication that have driven the success of Invest TCI initiatives.

Expressing her enthusiasm for the new office, Invest TCI CEO, Mrs. Angela Musgrove, stated, “Our vision is clear and compelling: to further empower Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, the agency offers incentives and support that enable more efficient and innovative practices. We are committed to helping businesses thrive, and in doing so, we are helping our entire community.”

Invest TCI recognizes the integral role that Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises play in the economic and social development of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Through its Business Support Unit, the agency provides comprehensive support services to startups and existing entrepreneurs, ensuring they have the tools and resources to succeed.

The grand opening of the new office in Grand Turk represents a significant step forward in Invest TCI’s mission to support and empower businesses across the islands. The agency looks forward to fostering economic growth and development and ensuring a prosperous future for all.

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LAST AMERICAN TOURIST SENTENCED TO A FINE OF $1500.00 OR SIX MONTHS IMPRISONMENT IN DEFAULT, SHE’S ALSO SENTENCED TO 23 WEEKS IMPRISONMENT SUSPENDED FOR ONE YEAR

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(Thursday, July 11th, 2024) Turk and Caicos Islands – The last of five American tourists arrested in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for being in unlawful possession of  ammunition could finally leave the TCI today, Thursday, July 11th, 2024.

Sharitta Grier 46 pleaded guilty on 25th June to having two rounds of.38 ammunition in her bags, at the Howard Hamilton International Airport in Providenciales on Monday 13th May, 2024, when leaving the Turks and Caicos Islands after a surprised Mother’s Day vacation trip, from her daughters.

Her Ladyship The Hon. Ms. Tanya Lobban-Jackson agreed with senior defense counsel, Ms. Sheena Mair of F-Chambers that there are exceptional circumstancés in Grier’s case, by this, the court departed from the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment and ordered a lighter sentence of $1500.00 or Six months imprisonment if fine is not paid. She’s also sentenced to 23 weeks imprisonment suspended for one year.

Holding for the office of the Director of Public Prosecution via link was Dr. Angela Terry Brooks, deputy director of the DPP’S office.

The prosecution office did oppose exceptional circumstances and invited the court to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

A more detailed court report will follow.

Wilkie Arthur
Court Correspondent
Eagle Legal News Media

(Feel free to contact us at phone number #3423407 for advertisements, sponsors, and/or donations in support of this Growing Media Network)

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