The new Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs held its second Executive Board meeting June 18 for roundtable discussions and updates on the ministry’s activities.
“The Executive Team discussed strategic issues facing (government) that are under its purview; budgetary provisions and other financial aspects; staff complement and requirements, strategic, tactical and operational concerns as well as various areas of policy and legislative amendment and development,” the ministry said in a press statement.
The Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs is a relatively new Ministry that was established in April, 2012. To date, since its inception, (April to June), its committed Heads of Department and staff have worked diligently to achieve the following outputs:
Fire Services Department
- The movement of Aerodrome Fire Services from TCIG to TCIAA;
- The establishment of a responsive Domestic Fire Service in the island of Providenciales;
- Continuous sensitization of the public on fire risks and hazards, (including having a Fire Fighter’s Day and visiting schools to educate the youths on fire prevention);
- Responded to a number of fires and rescued persons; as well as
- Conducted inspections on commercial properties to ensure that they are free from Fire Hazards.
Road Safety Department
- Transfer of the Road Worthiness Test to the Mechanical Workshop in the Ministry of Support Services;
- Computerization and updates of the Road Safety Examinations to eliminate dishonesty and fraud;
- Re-engineered processes to enable more persons to sit the Road Safety Examinations as well as obtain their licenses and vehicle registrations in a timely manner;
- Increased accessibility in the provision of licenses to persons in the family islands;
- Increased collaboration between the Police and Road Safety to reduce the number of persons driving without licenses as well as unregistered vehicles; and
- The development of proposals and initiatives to alleviate illegal jitney cabs in the island of Providenciales.
- Collaborated with the private sector in to collect garbage throughout the family islands under the direction, monitoring and evaluation of the Environmental Health Department;
- Made preparations and gathered the community for HE the Governor and his team to visit the islands;
- Commenced initial plans including a training and sensitization program to ensure readiness during the Hurricane Season (ongoing);
- Re-kindled the Senior Citizen’s Club in the islands;
- Celebrated the Island Festival (Regatta) and National Heroes Day in South Caicos in an attempt to revitalize the culture in this island; and
- Developed a detailed project proposal to implement “One Stop Shops” in the family islands to ensure that community has access to basic critical services under a single Government building.
Department of Environmental Health
- Signed the Solid Waste Management Contract to dispose solid waste in an efficient manner and create a more sanitary environment for all;
- Developed a proposal / business case to address the collection of Garbage Disposal throughout the islands;
- Collaborated with the Ministry of Health to assist in combating the Nora Virus affecting the Hotels (ongoing); and
- Sensitized the public on sanitizing water for domestic consumption given the prevailing water problems.
Department of Planning
- Conducted site inspections on 52 buildings under construction during the period April to June;
- Investigated and carried out 35 site inspections for illegal development throughout the islands;
- Completed 13 inspections for the Liquor Licensing Authority;
- Effectively responded to enquiries relating to zoning and demolition of existing structures;
- Increased its presence in the family islands to conduct inspections;
- Collaborated with the Environment Health Department and Department of Environment and Marine Affairs to clear the North Creek of abandoned boats (ongoing).
Department of Environment and Marine Affairs
Forged greater relations with the private sector to educate, sensitize and put mechanisms in place for the safety of persons accessing our beaches and waters through the following initiatives:
- Placed more buoys in strategic locations to make the public aware of swimming, boating and buffer zones;
- Worked closely with private organizations to prepare and erect signs in strategic locations along beach areas;
- Worked closely with private organizations to carry out patrols in the National Parks areas;
- Worked with the private organizations to adopt beach accesses in Providenciales in an effort to keep these areas clean;
- Obtained contributions from the Private sector to repair, maintain and upkeep the DEMA vessels to ensure that regular patrols are carried out;
- Held meetings with, as well as developed and enforced stringent rules for tour boat operators; and
- Work closely with Beaches Resort and Spa to renovate and rebuild the Children’s Park in Blue Hills, Providenciales.
- Conducted the first ‘Slash and Burn Exercise’ in the history of the Turks and Caicos in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to research and document new ways of saving our Pine Trees; as well as
- Planted over 100 Pine Trees in the Pine Yards of Middle Caicos during the latter part of June.
Her Majesty’s Prison
- Conducted Critical Thinking Courses for inmates to assess the possible outcomes of their actions to various situations;
- Re-engineered processes at the Reception Area to increase effectiveness in dealing with the public and in searching items;
- Increased production in the Farm, thereby providing the Prisons with additional meats, eggs and vegetables;
- Developed a proposal to market the extra eggs on the farm to supermarkets and generate revenue for the Government;
- Currently engaging in discussions with the Courts to implement Video Conferencing to reduce the expenditure of prisoners having to commute to Providenciales for trials;
- Re-defined the access routes for prisoners embarking on flights to increase the level of security in such areas;
- Made amendments to the teaching strategies and the syllabus offered to prisoners to enhance their learning;
- In the final stages of addressing the shortcomings of the toilet fixtures at the Prisons; and
- Collaborated with the Departments of Social Development, Education and Youth to prepare Case Plans for all juveniles housed at the Prison (ongoing).
Department of Agriculture
- Built the framework and put procedures and mechanisms in place to establish an effective Agriculture Department;
- Developed papers for submission to the Advisory Council for approval of fees and licenses for the importation of dogs and other animals into TCI;
- Revised the system for importation of animal and animal products, plants and plant products and plant related items;
- Introduced a ‘pet passport’ as well as a ‘re-entry permit’ for dogs and cats for multiple entry into the country;
- Drafted the Regulations for the Animal Health Bill and Plant Health Bill;
- Implemented efficient animal control measures to handle stray dogs (ongoing);
- Increased farm production and revenues for TCIG; and
- Worked closely with the Department of Environment and Marine Affairs on the ‘Slash and Burn Exercise’ as well as the planting of pine trees.
Social Development Department
- Collaborated with the Department of Education, Youth Department as well as the Prison to develop a Juvenile Management Plan (ongoing);
- Customised a learning program from the Conference, “Return to Happiness” that a couple of Social Workers attended so that it could be rolled out as a training tool for the other Social Workers throughout the islands;
- Made preparations for a Gender Specialist from Dominica to visit and conduct training on Gender and Gender related topics throughout the islands in July;
- Put mechanisms in place for the Social Review Board to be re-established in July 2012.
- Achieved the target in Phase 1 of the project plan to establish a Juvenile Home in the Turks and Caicos Islands;
- Completed and finalized the Gender Website to enable the Department to increase sensitizing the public on gender related issues.
- Collaborated with NGOs, the private sector and other local, regional and international agencies to meet the social needs of the community and assist in the delivery of various social programs (ongoing).
The Ministry of Environment and Home Affairs is vigilant in achieving its mandate and ensuring that it continues to offer enhanced service delivery to all stakeholders. Susan Malcolm, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry commented that, "I am proud to work with such a vibrant committed Team who continuously strive to give of their best to ensure that objectives are achieved. I must commend Heads of Departments for their team work and diligence and in looking at the synergies between our Departments to work together to meet our mandate. Their courage, dedication and commitment are a recipe for success in everything we do here at the Ministry."