Thursday, January 18, 2018
Old Harbour News

Old Harbour News

The National Water Commission (NWC) will purchase water for distribution to its customers in a public/private partnership deal brokered recently.

Mark Barnett, president of the NWC, made the disclosure at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’, on January 11, stating that the decision is “expected to at least reduce our losses to about 30 per cent”.

The NWC president was speaking against the background of a 15-million gallon water treatment facility to be constructed on the Rio Cobre at Content, near Dam Head, in St. Catherine.

Details on the private entity were not disclosed by Barnett but the NWC is integrally involved in the partnership, which sees the non-revenue water (NRW) component being complementary.

“The Rio Cobre is a steady flow of water even in the worst of situations. We have about 50 million gallons of water daily, so it makes sense as I don’t have to increase capital cost from creating storage. We only have to create a treatment facility and that is what we are pursuing now,” Barnett stated in a JIS article online.

The private entity has been contracted to build the facility, with construction set to get underway later this year.

The water boss says building the facility is one of the strategies being employed by the state agency to improve the company’s operational efficiency, improve capital asset base and expand the service.

The private enterprise has already secured financing under the arrangement to meet the 2018 commencement date, Barnett informed the group.

He said: “The treatment facility will impact Portmore, Kingston and Spanish Town.”

National Security Minister Robert Montague says nearly three billion Jamaican dollars is needed over the next two years for the full roll out of the national closed circuit television (CCTV) system dubbed ‘JamaicaEye’.

Minister Montague says the islandwide system is now in its initial phase and implementation is expected to take place next month as the ministry awaits Cabinet approval for the additional funds.

The minister’s disclosure comes in light of the increased incidents of shooting and murders islandwide.

JamaicaEye will allow citizens and business owners with cameras pointing in the public space to voluntarily provide their camera feed to a restricted team of vetted security professionals at two monitoring centres.

The initial launch of the programme will utilize the feeds of 200 cameras owned by the government and an expected 300 through public-private partnership in the initial phase.

The video feeds will be passed through a suite of video analytics.

Under the programme, citizens and businesses with CCTV systems will register via a website.

The JamaicaEye project is in keeping with the five pillar crime reduction strategy.

It was further developed and refined after numerous stakeholder consultations with public and private stakeholder groups in November last year, including the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and several stakeholders in Kingston and St Andrew.

Minister Montague in an appeal for more public-private partnership to assist with the building out of the CCTV network says "the ministry is going on an aggressive campaign to get private camera feeds as this will be a major step forward for the country”.

Jamaica is one of the few countries that has brought the use of private cameras to function in this capacity.

“This is how each Jamaican with a CCTV system can help in the fight against crime,” the ministry stated in a release to the press today.

“We have to take this approach because otherwise the cost would be too expensive for the government alone. To outfit Kingston alone would have cost the government over one billion Jamaican dollars."

The national CCTV system will monitor public spaces islandwide and assist the authorities in providing a suitable response in the event of an incident, disaster or act of criminality.

Friday, 12 January 2018 16:05

Chinese coaches arrive in Jamaica

The first set of coaches being provided to Jamaica by the People’s Republic of China for seven sports under a three-year technical agreement signed between the two countries last year, arrived in Kingston yesterday.

They will be conducting coaching in synchronized swimming, swimming, women’s basketball, football and volleyball, badminton and gymnastics.

Newly appointed permanent secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Denzil Thorpe, who spoke on behalf of Sport Minister Olivia Grange, told a reception for the coaches held at the residence of the Chinese Ambassador, that Jamaica intended to take full advantage of the project knowing that the athletes as well as the coaches and teachers will benefit through transfer of knowledge.

Thorpe also said that Jamaica was grateful for the training equipment to be provided by China under the agreement.

The permanent secretary lauded the team that had been working with the Ministry to ensure that this project of technical assistance in sport is indeed a reality.

That team comprised persons from the Planning Institute of Jamaica, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Sport Development Foundation and the GC Foster College of Sport and Physical Education.

The coaches will spend a month in Jamaica and the agreement also calls for 100 of the athletes in the programme and their local coaches to go to China mid-year.

A massive earthquake off the coast of Honduras and the possibility of a Tsunami hitting several other countries, including Jamaica, caused panic among some residents of Old Harbour Bay.

Old Harbour News was reliably inform that from as early as 1:00 am, residents started to leave the south west St Catherine coastal town after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the region between Honduras and the Cayman Islands.

By 3:00 am hundreds of residents were streaming out of the community of approximately 5,000 inhabitants, as news began circulating that a Tsunami is imminent.

However, such a warning was not coming from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). Neither did the Tsunami alert system, based in the community, was activated.

Just before midnight Prime Minister Andrew Holness had also informed the country via Twitter that “Jamaica is officially not under threat from a Tsunami”.

Yet many residents took the personal decision to evacuate, leaving nothing to chance.

A small crowd had already congregated at the entrance of the Old Harbour High School when Old Harbour News visited the area at about 4:00 am today.

The Old Harbour town centre was buzzing with life, as many converge near the police station. Many with personal belongings in hand, sat along the main road leading into the community.

“It betta wi lef now than it ketch wi down de,” one woman shouted. “A so when God a come nuff a dem naah go ready.”

Many persons were on their phones talking to family members and friends, informing them of the news that had struck fear into their hearts.

Mi nuh believe se anything ago happen,” another woman said. “But everybody a move, so mi move to.”

Evacuees congregated at the entrance of the Old Harbour High School

Some residents also stayed put.

“Mi a gwaan stay man,” said Garfield. “Mi a gwaan watch and si how tings a go first. Mi nuh hear di ting (siren) go off all now or si nobody come down yah and se wi fi move out. So mi a gwaan watch it still.”

The community is amenable to potential disasters with authorities conducting many simulation drills in recent years gone by. And it could be argued that the decisive manner in which many evacuated is testament of their readiness.

In a brief chat with Old Harbour News, Cllr. Lloyd Grant said it was difficult to convince the evacuees that the country was not under a Tsunami threat because their minds were already made up.

An officer on duty at the Old Harbour Police Station said they were also aware of the situation but cannot force residents to return home.

Oshane Archibald won the annual Old Harbour Bay 5K Road Race on New Year’s day, while denying runner-up Kirk Brown of a fourth straight win.

The traditional event, sponsored again by Evergrow Garden Garden Centre, saw 48 registered runners completing the journey that started from Old Harbour town.

Archibald, coming off a successful 2017 season, continued his rich form, topping the field in 14 minutes, 42.47 seconds, well clear of Brown, who stopped the clock in 14:47.56.

Lenford Adams finished third in 14:48.84 in one of the lowest turnout in terms of registered competitors.

Davian Gray was the highest placed high school runner, ending fifth overall in a time of 15:30.69 ahead of Dwayne Moore (16:21.24) and Milton Forbes (16:23.66) who were sixth and seventh respectively.

Local resident Winston Mollison came seventh in the male 40-59 category and 21st overall in a time of 19:55.26. Veteran Andrew Gutzmore, who came eighth, won that category in 16:31.96.

Former female champion Chris-Ann Lewis, who came second last year, regained the title she won in 2015, topping her field in 19:54.55.

Another former champion Karlene Blagrove, who now competes among the 40-59 age group, was second to Lewis in 21:22.95, while Deandra Harris, a little girl under 13 years old, was the third best placed female finishing 31st overall in 26:37.43.

Click link to view full results.

A female bartender remains in hospital after she was shot by a lone gunman at a pub in Marlie Mount square last night.

Information are that at about seven o’clock the gunman walked into Jillian’s Hot Spot HQ and fired three shots at the bartender before escaping.

Other customers in the bar were not hurt.

The incident brought traffic to a halt along the Old Harbour Road thoroughfare, as detectives search for possible clues that could help them make an arrest.

Up to this morning the condition of the injured woman is unknown in an Old Harbour News follow-up.

A bus conductor, who also operates as a delivery driver, was shot and killed last night at his Old Harbour Villa home, extending the record number of murders committed in the police division.

Dead is 37-year-old Shane Jones, who was shot multiple times for reason still unknown to the police.

According to the police residents heard several “loud explosions” following which Shane was found lying at his gate in a pool blood.

The body was taken to the hospital where it was officially pronounced dead. Jones’ killing has sent shockwaves among neighbours, colleagues and friends, leaving all in disbelief.

Investigators are yet to determine a motive behind the killing, but continue to search for any clue that may help them to crack this case.

This is the 32nd homicide recorded in the division since this year, well clear of the 23 murders committed in 2016.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017 12:59

$108m announced for Agro Park

The much anticipated Spring Gardens Agro Park in West Portland came closer to reality with the announcement of a J$108 million fund to get the park up and running.

These funds have been explicitly earmarked to support the Jamaica Banana and Plantain Industry (JBPI) through the agricultural competitiveness programme. The announcement was made Friday last by the Honourable Daryl Vaz, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation on behalf of the minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), the Honourable Karl Samuda.

“The park will provide an additional 146 acres of land designated for the production of bananas and plantains so that we can increase export earnings by J$172 million over the next three years. The export market stands at 107 million tonnes valued at more than US$25 billion.

“Jamaica enjoys less than one percent of that market, even as we have seen a steady increase from 78 tonnes in 2013 to 411 tonnes in 2016,” Minister Vaz declared while addressing participants at The Banana Day Observations and Farm Tour in Portland.

Against this background, the minister called on farmers to continue to apply the best international standards and agronomic practices to increase production and be assured of the sustainability of the Industry.

“Global G.A.P. certification is the stamp of approval of our produce, and the passport to international trade,” Minister Vaz said.

Janet Conie, general manager of The Banana Board, reinforced the position of the minister. “Global G.A.P Certification, an internationally recognised set of farm standards dedicated to good agricultural practices has opened up the way for farmers to capitalise on new opportunities to enter global markets. The Banana Board is the only certified producer organisation in Jamaica along with 52 farmers. Presently, Jamaica exports to the United Kingdom, Canada and The Cayman Islands; with Trinidad and Tobago to come on board for the first time; quite soon,” said Conie.

This was welcomed news for banana and plantain farmer, Byron Henry who now operates in the area designated to be the Agro Park. He sees the move as an opportunity to achieve optimum production levels and to enhance sustainability and meet expectations of the export market.

“My understanding is that the funds identified are for infrastructural works such as road and irrigation. If the promise is fulfilled this will be a good move. Currently, we experience a deficiency in water supply especially during the summer months. A modern irrigation system will improve the viability of our business, boost production and productivity; allowing us to achieve the standard of ten tonnes per acre,” Henry said in reacting to the news, he deemed timely.

The Spring Gardens Agro Park will be the first of its kind where the production of bananas and plantains are concerned and also the first for the eastern parts of the island. It is expected that farmers will be allocated between four and 20 acres, a move that is aligned with MICAF’s strategic priorities to improve competitiveness and create an enabling environment for growth.

The Jamaica Broilers Group has commissioned a third pellet mill at its feed mill at Freetown, St. Catherine. The US$2 million investment will increase the production capacity to 350,000 tonnes per year, making the facility the largest feed mill in the region.

Speaking at the commissioning ceremony last Thursday, Christopher Levy, president of chief executive officer of company said: “The growth in the local poultry and egg industries begins with good quality animal feed. And the Hi-Pro pellet mill is where vegetable protein is converted into digestible protein so farmers can grow healthy animals.”

He noted that the dairy industry was also growing with the conversation around breeds and better production.

“This shows that the agricultural sector cannot be taken for granted. Farmers are the backbone of this country as they provide more employment than any other sector. Therefore, our mission at Jamaica Broilers is to seek to facilitate the sustainability of the island’s small farmers, because when the farmers grow, we grow,” Levy said.

Levy said that Jamaica Broilers Group was now a multi-billion dollar operation producing 10-thousand chickens a week, moving to 12,000 birds a day. But he pointed out that the company’s core business remains in Jamaica.

Over the past five years, sales of Hi-Pro chicks and broiler feeds have increased by about 20 per cent, with layer feeds having grown by 10 per cent. Currently Hi-Pro has about 60 per cent market share of all feeds sold in Jamaica.

Kudos to councilor Steve Graham and the team, the annual Old Harbour Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony had a different flavor with the Evangelical Tabernacle Choir performing a series of popular carols.

Speakers kept it very short, while Graham urged constituents to live a life of peace, love and unity at a time when the constituency has been rocked by a record number of murders this year.

But the crowd this time around was arguably one of the smallest in recent memory. Many attributed this to the economy and high crime.

It’s a reality check for the policymakers. However, those present came to savour another moment of the Jamaican tradition.

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