Jamaica bus company is broke
Just like AMTRAK the mighty US passenger rail service here in America, the state-owned Jamaica Urban Transit (bus) Company (JUTC) is broke. This was the assessment of the the management consulting firm, KPMG Peat Marwick in the review of the books. According to the review:
No bus system can survive in Jamaica in the face of competition from illegal operators (robots). These robots ply only the profitable routes, do not move until they are full, are able to complete these "express" routes faster and since full all the time, sometimes charge less. The JUTC buses on the other hand are left with the less popular unprofitable routes, must provide regular scheduled transportation and not wait until they are full to depart. Even the bus company in New York City, USA, was losing money because of competition from the equivalent of "robots", the Dollar vans.
Unfortunately these robots are popular with the traveling public, but they are a menace to a systematic regular public bus system and will continue to undermine it. At the present rate, soon there will be no public bus service and the public will suffer from the hodge-podge unreliable transportation that will remain.
US attack CARICOM tariff protection
The banana war is supposedly over but the US is attacking Caribbean countries trade policy again. This time they are attacking the agricultural tariff of the 14-nation CARICOM countries and accusing them of being lazy. The Caribbean and the United States have been negotiating agricultural trade tariffs for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) agreement, with the Caribbean wanting tariffs to be the same as those used by the Geneva-based World Trade Organization. But, that is not good enough for the US. They want lower rates.
CARICOM has said lower tariffs could result in heavily subsidized U.S. products flooding the region's markets and putting its farmers out of business.
The U.S. State Department wrote several letters in June to Caribbean governments accusing regional representatives of generating ill will during negotiating sessions in Panama in May. The US State Department also accused chief Caribbean negotiator Richard Bernal of stalling progress at the Panama talks, claiming his delegation was unwilling to compromise.
"What CARICOM has been doing is looking after its interest,'' Assistant CARICOM Secretary General Colin Grandison told reporters in Georgetown, where CARICOM is based.
With the existing tariffs, Caribbean farmers are already being forced to leave crops to rot unharvested, and pour gallons of milk away because they cannot compete with US often government-subsidized products. Caribbean farmers do not need lower tariffs. Already the Caribbean has a lopsided adverse balance of trade with the US. The next step will probably be threats, but I hope CARICOM resists, does not knuckle under to greedy unconscionable US interests, and keep those tariffs high enough to protect our farmers.
Residents in the Washington DC metropolitan area may learn more on the FTAA by checking :
Jamaica, UK sign drug pact
The smuggling of drugs to Britain via Jamaican visitors has become so high that Britain was considering imposing visa requirements. Jamaica in lieu of this has signed a special drug intervention agreement with the UK.
Under the agreement which came into effect June 1, 2002,
Jamaica footballer Whitmore faces manslaughter charge
Jamaican national football team member Theodore Whittmore has been charged with manslaughter in the death of teamate Shorty Malcom by car accident. Malcolm and Whitmore were members of the Reggae Boys team, which took Jamaica to a first appearance in the World Cup finals in 1998. The two players, as well as Charles Ewan, had been returning to Montego Bay from a match against Bulgaria on January 28 1998 in Kingston when a rear tire blew out and caused the car to overturn. Malcolm died from head injuries. Ewan suffered a fractured spine and Whitmore had minor injuries to his arm.
The jury made the decision following a two-month inquest in Jamaica. The inquest took place in Falmouth, about 20 miles east of Montego Bay. A major issue at the inquest was "Who was driving the car?" The police report that at first Whitmore admitted he was driving, but later claimed that the victim Malcom was. Whitmore currently plays for Hull City in the English first division.
Floods leave behind waterfalls
In the months of May and June it seemed it rained for forty days and forty nights in Jamaica. These produced devastating floods, leaving behind death and destruction in the millions of dollars. Roads, bridges, agriculture, homes, all over the island have been destroyed. The Prime Minister declared the parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Catherine and ST. Thomas disaster areas. The country is in dire need of relief supplies. China has contributed US$30,000 in disaster relief. The Organisation of American States has also donated US$15,000 for flood relief.
In the bible, after the mighty flood, God produced the rainbow. In Jamaica, many peole say that this time it seems God has produced another phenomenon, waterfalls.
The first one occurred in Melrose in the riverless parish of Manchester. The beautiful impressive waterfall was discovered by yam vendors searching for coal. The waterfall is fed by an underground river from which the crystal clear water flows from a small hole which burst open under the water pressure from the recent heavy rains. The water has continued to rise and reached depths as high as 18 feet in some places. It has drawn crowds from all over the island. Impromptu prayer meetings have been held to give thanks from what many see as a gift from God. The Melrose falls is located near an area off the highway known for the sale of roast yam with saltfish to passing motorists. Spirits are high and many residents see it becoming a tourist attraction rivalling the world famous Dunns River Falls.
Since then other waterfalls have appeared in other areas of Manchester, St. Elizabeth and Clarendon. The most dramatic of these is in Mitcham in St. Elizabeth. It is located about half a mile from the main road and is quite substantial being about 3 miles long. The residents like elsewhere are overjoyed and envision commercial development.
The appearance of these waterfalls have never happened before. But will they last? Are these waterfalls here to stay? No! That is the answer from the expert of the Water Resource Authority. The floods have elevated groundwater levels extremely high, in some areas as high as 325 feet. These levels will subside and the waterfalls, the beautiful waterfalls, will go.
This is very unwelcome news for the residents particularly in Melrose. They have already cut a road to the falls and have set up all sorts of commercial enterprises.
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Flood leaves crab invasion behind too
Crabs like dirt!
Overwhelming referendum support for "socialism" in Cuba
Some 7.6 million Cubans, representing more than 90 per cent of the island's voting population, have signed on in support of a "populist referendum" to cement socialism into Cuba's constitution. President Fidel Castro had predicted that at least seven million of the nearly eight million Cubans above the minimum voting age of 16 would support the measure, which seeks to reinforce the "economic, political and social regime" that has been in place for 43 years in that nation.
Bush proposes $500 million for AIDs fight
President Bush on Wednesday proposed spending $500 million to keep
mothers in parts of Africa and the Caribbean from passing the AIDS virus to
their babies. He called on other world leaders to help "save
children from disease and death.''
Bush's announcement is part of a White House strategy to project a compassionate image for the United States ahead of a summit next week in Canada. The aim is to soften criticism that America doesn't spend enough helping poor countries, a senior Bush adviser said. The president called his proposal ``the first of this scale by any government anywhere.''
Two million women infected with HIV become pregnant each year, most of
them in poor countries. Between one-quarter and one-third transmit the
disease to their newborns either during labor or while breast-feeding. That
translates into 2,000 new AIDS-infected infants each day - a statistic that
alarms public health officials and cripples the countries' ability to
develop their economies.
Jamaica's Island Grill chain spreads
Lookout McDonalds! Island Grill is on your tail. Well actually the Jamaican fast food chain has a long way to go before it can become a serious competitor to the fast food giant MacDonalds, but recently it opened two more restaurants. The restaurants were opened simultaneously though miles, no countries apart. One was opened in Pembroke Pines, Florida and at the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston Jamaica.
The one in Jamaica was opened by Jamaica's Minister of Tourism and Sports, Portia Simpson. The one in Florida was opened by Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Dr. Kenny Anthony. Island Grill has seven branches in Jamaica and two in Florida. The first Island Grill branch outside of Jamaica was officially opened a year ago in Lauderdale Lakes in Florida.
Hot Calaloo hails this as a very significant development. Multinational fast food giants roam the world, setting up outlets, sucking profits away from the respective countries, overwhelming the local restaurants, changing the cultural eating habits, and often disdaining local agricultural products for supplies. Let us hope Island Grill continues to spread and hopefully some of the profits will find their way back to Jamaica.
This is also significant because government-backed franchise operations are a fundamental part of Hot Calaloo's PWP, Partnership With People, progam to bring real prosperity to Jamaica and countries like Jamaica. PWP will give local people a real chance to compete in their own land, but has been ignored, while marauding multinational corporations continue to sew up every type of business in Jamaica with their franchise operations.
Jamaican chemist honoured at the White House
Dr. John Ewen, a research chemist and inventor was honoured at the White
House in Washington DC recently. Dr. Ewen, who is president of Catalyst
Research Corporation in Houston Texas, received a National Medal of
Technology from US President George Bush.
Is NY trash bound for the Caribbean?
Yes! According to the New York Post, City officials, struggling to find a
home for New York's 12,000 tons of household trash a day, are considering
sending it on a Caribbean vacation - permanently.
Study reveals bacteria killing Caribbean coral
Caribbean coral is not only beautiful. It is vital to the tourist
industry and the fish population. A recent issue of the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences has identified bacteria found in the intestines
of humans and other animals as the cause of a disease killing elkhorn corals
in the Caribbean Sea.
High turnover rate for Jamaica police
Last year more than 1 policeman per month was killed for a total of 15 for the year. This year 7 have already been killed. The high murder rate of policemen probably is one of the major reasons for the high turnover rate in the Jamaica police force. Between 1999 and June 2002 more than 500 policemen and policewomen have resigned according to the Constabulary Communication network. This figure represents a doubling of the rate compared to the previous 2 years.
Millions of dollars in reward money for information about cop killers remain unclaimed. This reward money does not come from the private sector but comes from regular contributions from the police themselves. What a shame!
The stress from the job are forcing resignations but there are many more to take their places. The Jamaica Constabulary Force lauched a massive drive to recruit 1,000 cops in 18 months. After only 4 months 2,487 persons had applied.
Editorial: JLP leader Eddie Seaga has fueled public dislike for the police for political reasons and has thereby placed targets on their backs. Jamaicans for Justice and other civic organisations have not spoken out against this, but continues their one-sided criticism of the police. As long as Eddie Seaga is head of the JLP, police will continue to be prime targets for murder, suffer low morale and endure high efficiency-robbing turnover rates.
New Zealand makes cricket history
New Zealand made cricket history by winning their first Test match ever in the West Indies. They took the first Test handily by 204 runs as WI bats failed again. They made this 1st Test victory hold up to win the 2-Test series, by drawing the other Test. At least in this 2nd Test, the windies salvaged first innings lead thanks to splendid batting of Chris Gayle in scoring 204 for his first Test double century. In that test New Zealand all-rounder SB Styris made a glorious debut to test cricket scoring a maiden century (107) in the 1st innings and 69 not out in the 2nd.
1st Test (NZ won by 204 runs)
2nd Test (Draw)
Jamaica Leaders sign code of conduct
Here we go again. Jamaican political leaders of the two major parties have signed a code of conduct. The code was the product of a private-sector –led committee on crime and violence. In addition to the party leaders, it was signed by their leaders of business in Parliament and party chairmen. Together this code of conduct and the report of the national Committee on Crime aim to reduce the causes and incidence of criminal and political violence.
Editor’s Note: This is a good step but I am not too optimistic. Even if these leaders follow this code, I am skeptical that they have the control over their henchmen on the constituency level.
Jamaican criminals are just too resourceful and inventive. They are now even in the gasoline business. They set up illegal gas stations , dispensing gas from huge underground tanks. Where on earth are they able to steal gas to fill these storage tanks? They must have gasoline tankers too.
The police have launched a crack down on these operations. The latest police raid of a facility on Hagley Park Road in Kingston netted 3 arrestees, and over 10,000 gallons of gas. The illegal operation involved officials from the Ministry of Mining and from the state-owned Petrojam.
Jamaica trade deficit shrinks
Man bites dog! "Dog bites man is not news, but "man bites