This press release is issued by the Informal Settlements Unit (ISU) to update the public in regard to the containment activities undertaken in the Bight and Five Cays, Providenciales on Thursday and Friday last week. The commencement of those activities was announced in the ISU's press release issued last Wednesday, 22 March 2023. This then, is a post-operations update following a debriefing meeting that the ISU hosted this morning at 10:00 am.
Taking each location in turn:
Bight, Providenciales (Thursday, March 23, 2023)
Representatives from the following stakeholder agencies were in attendance: the ISU Working Group, the Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure, the Human Rights Commission, the Fire Department, the Police, the electricity and water utility providers, Social Services.
The containment activities took place on parcel 60802/17, (24 acres) the Bight and Thomas Stubbs which lands are privately owned and from which a total of 35 illegal structures were safely cleared. It is believed that the structures had been occupied by a total of 140 persons.
The proprietor's representative of this privately owned land was also present for the exercise and was fully co-operative and supportive of activities being carried out by the ISY. Indeed, the owners had reached out to the Department of planning to assist in the demolition procedures and the clearing of their properties.
There were no unexpected developments on the morning of the exercise and all activities proceeded as planned, the physical safety of all involved and the protection of the rights of those affected being primary concerns.
Five Cays, Providenciales (Friday March 24, 2023)
In Five Cays, representatives of the following stakeholders' agencies were in attendance or had previously attended the site: Personnel from the Crown Land Unit, Officers from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (R.T.C.I.P.F.), personnel from the Department of Planning, Environmental Health Department and from FortisTCI.
Here, the containment activities took place on parcels 60606/217 and 210. These parcels are all owned by the Crown. The illegal construction comprised two unoccupied concrete buildings, one constructed up to belt beam and the other partially completed with a zinc roof.
Despite checks having been made up to a day before the exercise and it being determined that the structures remained unoccupied, on the morning of 24 March, a person calling himself a "caretaker" was encountered. The individual was found to be occupying a detached structure at the rear of the concrete building located on parcel 60606/210. The individual was warned that he would be served with a notice to vacate the property.
The operation proceeded with demolition of the unoccupied concrete building.
ISU communications personnel monitoring public comment have been encouraged by the generally positive reception of these activities and are grateful for the support. Nevertheless, video and still images of the demolition in progress are heartbreaking and the ISY renews its plea to residents to disengage with this practice. The proliferation of informal construction and the development of informal settlements is not the way of the future and will not be allowed.