JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending December 30th, 2005

Rainfall from several months ago caused significant flooding for numerous communities and is continuing to wreak havoc in Swamp and Foreman’s Hill as well as Clapham in Moneague, St. Ann. Approximately 30 houses have been flooded, some fully covered by water, while the road leading to the community of Swamp and a section of the Moneague to River Head main road remain inundated. More than 50 families have had to be evacuated, and a boat has become the only means of transportation for some of the residents moving in and out of the affected communities. According to the Water Resources Authority, the water is rising at the rate of 2 ½ inches per day and is threatening several more houses in the area. The water is shown by tests to be highly contaminated, causing serious health concerns.

Eight rank-and-file officers who have been asked to retire in the public interest are to challenge the Office of the Police Services Commission’s actions in the Supreme Court. The officers, who are all attached to the Narcotics Division, have been accused of attempting to export illegal drugs. They are filing orders of prohibition to prevent the commission from causing them or compelling them to retire, and are also seeking an order to quash the decisions of the commission. The officers are seeking relief on the grounds that the commission’s orders were unlawful and in breach of section 26 of the Police Service Regulations and the constitution. They claim the Commissioner of Police, Lucius Thomas never gave them a hearing. They also claim the allegations against them were never established or proven, and that they were being denied the legitimate expectation that they could continue their service in the force. The first hearing is to take place in the Supreme Court on February 8, 2006.

In response to the growing rate of unemployment of Jamaican youth, the government will initiate several programs to increase employment opportunities starting next year, according to State Minister of Education Dr. Donald Rhodd. Increased participation in the National Youth Service program is expected to increase in the new year, by 200 per cent. The number of participants is expected to increase from 3,500 to 10,000 by September. The program runs in phases, with training the first segment, after which the participants are assigned to serve in a public or private organization. Last year the unemployment rate of 14-24 year olds was 30.6 per cent, four times higher than that of adults. To better youth opportunities, the government also says it will introduce an entrepreneurship program next year, to train and mentor young people in the process of starting and sustaining a business.

Marlene Smith, 45, of Tredegar Park, St. Catherine, was shot and killed in her house on Christmas morning. Reports are that at about 6:15 am Sunday, Smith was at home when four men invaded her yard. The men, who were armed with guns, began removing several louver blades from Smith’s house before shooting her several times. Residents rushed her to the Spanish Town Hospital, where she later died of her injuries. The St. Catherine North homicide team is investigating the killing, and said Smith is the 13th woman to be killed in the parish since the start of the year and the 220th victim to be killed by gunmen. That number is 12 fewer than the number killed during the corresponding period last year.

While most people were celebrating Christmas at home with family and friends, at least 15 street boys were spending the holiday in the cemetery of the St. Andrew Parish Church in Half-Way Tree, St. Andrew. Their reasons for being on the streets range from being from poor families that could not support them to fleeing the inner city in order to avoid being caught up in the crime wave now gripping the country. Some are critical of organizations, including centers and individuals who promise much and deliver very little. One youth explained he would like the world to see them as children who are in need while another said he’d like to see the authorities address poverty, which he thinks would reduce the high crime rate. All were hopeful the new year would bring change for the better.

The head of the Police Traffic Division, Senior Superintendent Elan Powell said there has been a significant reduction in fatal road accidents this holiday season, unlike last December when 23 people were killed within a week. Over the past two weeks, there were between six and seven deaths according to Powell last night. Between December 20 and 25 of last year, 18 people died in three separate motor vehicle accidents. After the tragedies of last year, Powell put in place new measures to reduce the number of fatalities. The number of police personnel on the streets was increased and there was a zero-tolerance approach to traffic breaches, with 1,900 traffic tickets being issued in a single day last week.

Eight people were killed between Tuesday night and Wednesday, pushing the murder tally to at least 1,647 since the start of the year. Yesterday morning, 36-year-old taxi driver Andrew Lowe of Albion district was shot dead by a gunman on King Street, Montego Bay. In another incident, Delroy Miller was killed by his common-law wife Keisha Richards in Bastard Cedar Walk. Also in Western Jamaica, Michael Whorms and a man identified only as “Fowler” were killed in separate shooting incidents at about 8:45 pm. Three others were killed in the Half-Way Tree area, with circumstances of their deaths unclear at this time. In St. Catherine, Everton Alexander Jones was killed and a 20-year-old woman shot and injured on Chatsworth Road in Waterford on Tuesday evening. According to police reports, Jones and a female companion were in front of a home on Chatsworth when two men armed with guns approached them and opened fire. They were taken to Spanish Town Hospital where Jones was pronounced dead.

As of January 1, local food producers who do not have the necessary Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point certification will not be able to export to the European Union. However, certification is costly for these entities. According to the general manager of West Best Foods Ltd, to get a company HACCP-certified is very expensive, perhaps more than US $330,000 in 2001 when the dollar was much lower. HACCP is a food safe system that requires intensive documentation and demands that all staff be literate and retrained to comply with the requirements. There may also be structural changes needed, also increasing costs. There are plans in place to assist processors who may be cash-strapped and unable to meet the requirements; a $40 million revolving loan has been established for processors and has been underutilized.


South African batsman Jacques Kallis is expected to overcome a painful elbow injury and play in the second Test against Australia tonight, though Justin Kemp could miss the game due to a shoulder injury. Kallis, the world’s top-ranked batsman, missed the drawn first Test in Perth with the injury though he was expected to return for the traditional Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Kemp scored 55 in a match-saving century partnership with Jacques Rudolph on the final day in Perth, with captain Graeme Smith saying it had helped his sided with their confidence going into the second test.

The members of the Jamaica Football Referees Association can be of good cheer this holiday season, given their new agreement for proper compensation for traveling. The Jamaica Football Federation president intervened to assist with the issue. Under the new agreement, referees will be paid $33.00 per mile or the government rate, an agreement that has been in place since the previous JFF administration. The government had granted an increase in April of 2004, doubling the previous figure of $16.50 per mile, but it had not been implemented. A number of meetings took place but nothing was sorted out. Finally a meeting with president Boxhill took place and the matter was quickly resolved. However, another problem is on the horizon, that being how the mileage is calculated.

Asafa Powell set a world record in the 100 meters, but missed the 2005 World Championships. Yelena Isinbayeva did compete at the worlds in Helsinki and set yet another world record in the pole vault. Powell ran the 100 in 9.77 seconds on June 14 in Athens, Greece, bettering Tim Montgomery’s record by 0.01 seconds. Montgomery was later stripped of his old record and prize money when the Court of Arbitration for Sport banned him and sprinter Chryste Gaines for two years for doping. Neither runner tested positive for drugs, though. They were banned based on evidence gathered in the criminal investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative and the testimony of fellow sprinter Kelli White. Montgomery’s former girlfriend, three-time Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones, competed sporadically and remained under investigation. Powell, who missed the worlds because of a groin injury, is only the fourth non-American to hold the 100 world record since 1912.

Kwame Richardson struck seconds before the final whistle to rescue a valuable point for Arnett Gardens, allowing them to salvage a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Wadadah in Wray and Nephew National Premier League second-round action yesterday. Despite the point on the road for Wadadah it was a disappointment as a Jermaine Anderson header in the 89th minute looked to have capped off a perfect come-from-behind victory for the visitors. The bitterly disappointed Wadadah coach felt his team gave away the game, giving up several chances to go ahead. At the same time, the Arnett coach professed dissatisfaction, saying his team should have put the game away in the early stages of play. The draw sees Arnett remain in sixth place with 27 points with Wadadah in 10th place with 17.


The weekly news is compilation of new articles from top Caribbean and Jamaican news sources.