By David Tapfer
Consider the plight of the National Trust and what can be done to help. When your country is caught in the quicksand of an economy on hold, you call and reach out for help from someone standing on solid ground. Even when you paid for that ground.
David Tapfer is a retired, US-born engineer and management executive. He is the former chairman of the Middle Caicos Branch of the Peoples Democratic Movement
Currently one of the main attractions is the Middle Caicos cave sites. Indian Cave is not being maintained and access to it must be weeded on a monthly not yearly basis. There is no charge for visiting Indian Cave and it is a natural and historical site in route to the main cave.
The “cave” is receiving attention but it has not reached its potential as a visitor experience. The welcome centre at the cave has sanitary facilities but no power for the water system. $13,000 has been quoted by Fortis to bring power the 100 yards to the site from the road and power lines. Fortis is a firm that has shown interest in community projects and this is one they can do with minimal cost and maximum impact. Service drop conductors, a couple of short utility poles and small transformer are obviously in stock and they have equipment and personnel nearby who can do the work quickly.
We preach cleanliness but we direct our visitors to a crude privy at the cave, while standing by are two complete toilet facilities, water pump, water tank and a welcome centre that can promote a better visitor experience. The National Trust cannot afford the 13 grand quoted by Fortis but, once installed, they can pay the power bill
Therefore, as a private citizen, I am asking Fortis for help on this simple project.
The trust was due to be assigned some portion of the accommodation tax. This has never happened. While we celebrate our tourists as the basis for our economy, we must also realize they walk over our ecology, national parks and historical sites. Therefore, a portion of the income derived from their visits must go to preservation.
Our former government had the parks and all land, historical or not, in their gun sights as another way to finance what is now bringing them to court. They sidetracked the trust for six years and the interim government did not help either. They had other priority issues. So does the current representative for Middle Caicos.
Where do we go from here? We have the reef foundation, the cultural folks and various organizations all trying to lend a hand in what should and eventually must be assigned to the National Trust. Unless the Trust is funded, the challenges are impossible to meet and our beautiful by nature and our rich history will be swept under the carpet of lack of attention.
Also unrecognized on central Grand Caicos is the Haulover Plantation, Armstrong Ponds, stone henge and other projects that, if opened up, could serve to reinvigorate the largest island, which has no private employment. The population has been leaving day after day from this the most beautiful and historical island of all.
Help from the electrical utility could be a first important step. There are other small steps along the way to real development for Grand Caicos. Join the advocacy for getting out of the quicksand and started down the road to success.