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JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending September 16th, 2005

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The Portmore Municipal Council has requested that the government provide a technical reassessment of the municipality’s disaster preparedness. At this week’s meeting of the Portmore Disaster Preparedness Committee, the council made the request following the destruction in the U.S. from Hurricane Katrina. Director-general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) Dr. Barbara Carby stated there was a lot to be learned from the disaster on the Gulf Coast. She urged the council to examine shelters and to seek additional shelters for evacuees, as well as to pay special attention to at-risk people such as the elderly and mothers of young children.

Jamaica’s teachers association asked for a $500 million concession from the government in exchange for its cooperation on the plan to license educators. More than 17,000 of the island’s teachers are without a first degree, but are willing to upgrade their skills. The association believes the cost should be borne mainly by the government. The association will also be approaching local and international lending institutions in an effort to access funding at concessionary rates, to assist the teachers. Initially the association opposed the proposal for licensing the teachers, but now supports the effort, but insists that the system should be used for development and not punishment.

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica are exploring the possibility of recruiting Jamaican workers to Port of Spain for its booming construction sector. Both countries hope the initiative could provide a model for the expansion of the free movement labor in the Caribbean Communities. Trinidad and Tobago’s economy has been on a strong growth path for the past ten years, driven by expansion in the natural gas and manufacturing sectors. The increasing cost of oil has also affected the economy, driving construction. The idea of free movement of labor is not a new one, but some countries have been slow to implement the necessary regulations.

A Danish firm has been awarded the contract for segment three of the Northern Coastal Highway Improvement Project. E Phil and Sons of Denmark won the $5.6 billion job to construct the Ocho Rios to Port Antonio section of the highway. The project is being financed under two agreements made with the European Union amounting to euro 80 million. Prime Minister P J Patterson stated that the funding available was euro 66 million, with the Jamaican government to make up the shortfall. The North Coast Highway project is a sub-project of the Northern Jamaica Development Program, which was created to bring improvements to the physical infrastructure along the north coast. The principal objective of the program is to support increasing tourism, population growth and development of the corridor.

Prime Minister P J Patterson accused the Opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) of playing politics with the country’s energy problems, and with frustrating efforts to generate rational discussion of the problem. Patterson made comments at the PNP’s annual conference held at the National Arena. Patterson claims that the opposition was disappointed that Finance Minister Omar Davies had not included gas prices increases in the new tax measures that were tabled in April. The JLP would have used the increases to trigger island wide demonstrations like those held last week.

Residents of Majesty Gardens community in Kingston demonstrated against what they claim was the murder of Marcus Vernon by police last week. According to residents there, a busload of police officers arrived in the community last Saturday and demanded to be let into Vernon’s room. The police allegedly then took Vernon’s girlfriend and child to a separate room and then shot Vernon. The official report states that the police entered Majesty Gardens in search of Vernon to serve a warrant for the murder of Gary Walcott, and when met with gunfire proceeded on to Vernon’s building, where he moved to fire his rifle. At that point he was shot and killed. Vernon supposedly led the Damage gang several years ago and was charged with murder in 1998, when he left for England. Upon returning he led the Blemish gang, blamed for four murders.

The Ministry of Water and Housing is spending approximately $45 million on the Huddersfield/Mango Valley Water Supply Scheme to provide potable water to residents in western St. Mary. The water will be sourced from the mains running between Ocho Rios and Port Maria. To serve the entire area of Mango Valley and Huddersfield, water will be pumped. The project was started in 2003 and is being undertaken by Carib Engineering Corporation Limited, to be completed in three phases. Pipeline must be laid, a holding tank must be put in place and a pumping station installed. The first phase is about 80% complete.

Two abducted men returned to their families after a harrowing five-day ordeal involving their kidnapping and a hostage situation. Police intervention resulted in the shooting death of one of the kidnappers, while the others involved in the crime escaped and are on the run. Detectives are now tracking three members of a Negril-based gang. The men were kidnapped while on their way to purchase food. A $10 million ransom was subsequently demanded for their release. A sting operation was set up in the course of the negotiations, leading to the shooting death of one of the alleged kidnappers. Upon learning of the shooting, the remaining kidnappers fled the house where one victim was held, allowing him to escape and return to his hotel.


The Sports Development Foundation has awarded the Jamaica Surfing Foundation with a $500,000 grant towards fielding a National Junior Surfing team to the 2005 International Surfing Association World Junior Surfing Championships, to be held in Huntington Beach, CA from October 8-16. The event is the premier junior event on the world’s amateur surfing calendar. Surfers from the Under-19 and Under-16 categories have been selected to form the national junior surfing team. Hopes are to field an 11-member squad and three officials. The total cost for such a team is budgeted at $1.5 million. The JSA has worked for the past six years to promote Jamaica’s surfing on an international and national level.

The Wray & Nephew National Premier League (NPL) clash between Tivoli Gardens and Boys’ Town had been highly anticipated by fans. The match lived up to expectations and in the end the home team came away with a 2-1 win. Tivoli scored first with Roland Dean scoring in the sixth minute, followed by Oraine Simpson from the penalty spot in the 37th minute. Boys’ Town was able to achieve a goal in the 66th courtesy of team captain Fitzroy Anglin, on a penalty shot. Tivoli’s coach was pleased with the outcome but disappointed with the way the team played overall. Boys Town’s technical director said the team showed a lot of character.

Twelve-year-old Yvonne Foster became the first pre-teen female national table tennis champion since 1955 when aged-eight Joy Foster achieved the same feat. Foster, a student at Meadowbrook High and a member of the Pembroke Hall Table Tennis Centre, defeated 22-year old 2003 champion Nina Burton 4-3 in a tense final at the National Championships. The match seesawed back and forth between the two athletes, with Foster winning the sixth and seventh sets to gain her first national crown.

The Caribbean Football Union rankings for September reflected no changes, leaving Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz as the number one team over Trinidad and Tobago, with Cuba third. The Boyz are the winners of the Digicel Caribbean Cup held in February, and remained steady in the world rankings at 41st place. World Cup leaders Brazil are still the world leaders, ahead of the Netherlands, Argentina and the Czech Republic. Mexico and the US hold the fifth and seventh places respectively in the world rankings. Rounding out the top ten of the DFU are Haiti, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Suriname.

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

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Written by Staff Writer