Turks and Caicos Islands: repair and recovery brings growth

2019, March 1: The current fiscal year is proving just as hectic as the last in the port community of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Following a brutal hurricane season in 2017 and catastrophic physical destruction, the Ports Authority of the Turks and Caicos Islands signed contracts for capital projects to be implemented during the 2018/2019 fiscal year.

Post hurricane clean-up, repair and recovery activities have been replaced by rehabilitation, replacement and construction. Current priorities include rehabilitation of critical port infrastructure and super-structure that were destroyed or damaged during the hurricanes. Other priority projects listed by the Ports Authority of the Turks and Caicos Islands include:

  • redevelopment and modernization of the main port at South Dock Providenciales and preparing and arranging financing for phase 1 of a development project;
  • short term improvements at South Dock, Providenciales including the dredging of the turning basin and improvements to the container yard;
  • construction of a roro ramp and pavements at South Dock, Grand Turk;
  • rehabilitation of the south Caicos Port that sustained hurricane damage; and
  • completion of Environmental Impact Assessments for Caicos Islands maintenance dredging projects.

Island Drilling Ltd won the contract to rehabilitate the Grand Turk roro ramp last August (2018). It had been closed for public use for about three years, “due to structural deficiencies which rendered it unsafe,” the Ports Authority explained. The work involved general repairs to the ramp; installation of a pre-cast concrete structure to replace the existing steel bridge; and, repairs to the ramp abutment.

South Dock Grand Turk has a main pier and a roll-on roll-off ramp (roro ramp). The two together comprise the only facility in Grand Turk for receiving or shipping cargo. The roro ramp has been used mainly for inter-island barge services and vessels engaged in the movement of building materials including sand, gravel and concrete blocks; and, otherwise for moving goods located in Grand Turk that cannot be lifted by crane. Repair of the roro ramp was therefore an economic imperative.

Carnival Liberty and Victory side by side in Grand Turk


Despite the severe battering from hurricanes, fallout was not as dramatic as in other territories. Cruise ship calls declined marginally, from 285 in 2016 to 262 in the year of the hurricanes, just 8%. Cruise passenger arrivals in that period declined by an even smaller margin, just over 2%.

The Grand Turk Cruise Center is central to the shore experience provided by this high-volume cruise destination. It supports a vibrant local tourism economy and also provides a vital social function. It had to be closed for 56 days for repairs and rehabilitation as the Turks and Caicos Islands recovered from the double blow of two tropical hurricanes in successive weeks.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good and the winds of hurricanes Irma and Maria collectively contributed to an increase in construction activity and stimulated increases in gross domestic product in many territories across the region. The performance of the ports system in the Turks and Caicos Islands in 2017-2018 surpassed the statistic of the previous year. This improvement, the Port Authority said, correlates with increased construction activity taking place in the tourism sector and increased imports of building materials following the hurricanes.

Total cargo handled by the port system increased by 2.4% as vessel calls increased by 93 visits (to reach 526).

Indeed, there was growth in all the major categories of imports, including fuel, aggregates and motor vehicles, the Ports Authority of the Turks and Caicos Islands reports.[]