Insurance hazard – Study finds most motorists driving without coverage

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Andewale McLaughlin
Peter Levy
Gladstone Taylor
Dr Lucien Jones, chairman of the National Road Safety Council.

More than half the vehicles in Jamaica are uninsured, a statistic that is of huge concern to road-safety officials and one which the police consider “frightening”.

A study conducted by the Jamaica National Group, based on data culled from Tax Administration Jamaica and the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ), shows that up to 57 per cent of vehicles were not covered by an insurer in 2016. Of a gross figure of 609,086 vehicles registered, only 259,269 were insured.

But other data which the researchers gleaned from TAJ and IAJ are in conflict with those statistics, indicating a slightly lower variation. That analysis shows that of 537,449 motor cars, motorcycles, tractors, trailers and trucks, 52 per cent had no insurance policies.

Peter Levy, president of the IAJ, disputes those numbers, arguing that his organisation estimates that a little more than two-thirds of vehicles are insured.

“We believe that the range of uninsured vehicles suggested in the [research] is higher than the actual figure. Our estimate is in the region of 30 per cent,” the insurance honcho told The Gleaner, adding that IAJ data indicate about 350,000 insurance policies.

“This is still too high in our opinion. That is why we are working with eGov Jamaica to bring online a database of insurance information for vehicles, to aid in enforcing the law and end the practice of forging cover notes and certificates,” said Levy.

The study was quick to point out challenges in ascertaining the exact number of registered vehicles and called for a coherent database of the country’s vehicle inventory.

“There seem to be some issues establishing the number of vehicles on the road based on TAJ data. Also, we should note that some registered vehicles are not in use, laid-up awaiting repairs, written off, stolen and scrapped, for sale and sitting on second-hand car lots, and so the owners may legitimately have chosen not to insure them,” Levy said.

He implored motorists to get insured despite sometimes prohibitive price points.

“One of the things we encourage people to do is if you have an insurance company that is telling you something that you don’t like, go shop around, because they don’t all operate by the same set of rules,” he said.

Vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council (NRSC), Dr Lucien Jones, toldThe Gleaner that while he is alarmed by the figures cited in the study, he believes they could possibly be higher. He hinted that the IAJ insurance estimates could very well include fraudulent policies.

“If that number is indeed correct, then that is a huge number. It’s a manifestation of the rampant indiscipline and illegality happening in the country,” said Jones. “Part of the reason why so many people are driving without an insurance is because in many instances, people have forged insurance papers. They are complicit with other agencies, so there’s a big racket going on in the country.”

Jones said that while the NRSC was primarily focused on reducing traffic injuries and deaths, the non-insurance crisis was a major cause for concern.

“It’s the law, and it’s not just a matter of driving safe, it’s protecting those others who, in case there’s a crash, there’s some kind of compensation,” said Jones.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Calvin Allen, who heads the Public Safety and Traffic Enforcement Branch, said many motorists are before the court for insurance breaches.

“We shouldn’t have none at all driving without insurance, but sadly – and the insurance company is the right entity that is in the position to give that sort of feedback – it is something that we have to look at and examine, especially against what we know when a person is driving without insurance coverage, and the injuries that one can sustain from a collision,” he said.

“That person has nothing to get because the vehicle is not insured, so it is very serious. It is a very serious and frightening revelation.”

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here

Psych evaluation ordered for accused baby snatcher


Parish Court Judge Vaughn Smith has ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Peta-Gaye Ffrench, who is accused of stealing a day-old baby from the Victoria Jubilee Hospital on January 9.

The evaluation was requested by Ffrench’s attorney Rachel Donaldson.

Ffrench, 28, was arrested on February 5, when she attempted to register the infant at the Registrar General’s Department in Twickenham Park, St Catherine.

Officials at the agency became suspicious after she gave conflicting information about the child’s birth.

The alleged baby snatcher was taken into custody by the police and later charged with child stealing.

The infant was subsequently returned to his family after the results from a DNA test confirmed that he was the stolen child.

Ffrench was remanded and is scheduled to return to court on March 13.

News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here

Paulwell: Gov’t failed to implement bad gas recommendations

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Shadow Minister on Energy Phillip Paulwell is scolding the Government for what he calls a failure to implement recommendations from the 2016 bad-gas saga.

In a statement yesterday, Paulwell called on Energy Minister Fayval Williams to update the nation on the implementation of recommendations by the Petroleum Trade Reform Committee (PTRC) that investigated the substandard product in the market in 2015.

“I am asking the minister to clarify whether the PTRC and the relevant agencies had ceased its implementation meetings since October 2016 and what steps she intends to take to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented to guarantee quality standards in Jamaica’s petroleum sector,” said Paulwell.

He was responding to a Sunday Gleaner article in which mechanics and a Petrojam employee expressed concerns about the quality of the gas currently on the market, pinpointing issues with a number of vehicles and saying it could cause lasting damage.

“I am extremely surprised to hear of new reports of the possible existence of bad gas in the petroleum retail sector, as Cabinet had accepted the report from the PTRC on August 22, 2016, and agreed to implement a series of recommendations. Apart from the ministerial document setting out specifications for unwashed gum, it was now apparent that both Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley and Prime Minister [Andrew] Holness, in his capacity as minister of energy, failed to follow up and to ensure that the events of 2015 were not repeated,” Paulwell said in a statement yesterday.

No excuses

He said the report was fully accepted by the Holness Cabinet, and as a result, there should be no excuses for the failure to implement the recommendations.

Yesterday, three regulatory and oversight groups also responded to the concerns that the country might be heading towards another round of bad gas, saying that they have no evidence of contaminated fuel in the marketplace.

The Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) and the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) insist that, so far, they have not received any such reports.

“This morning, members of the respective boards of directors and relevant executive teams convened a joint meeting to discuss the concerns raised. The CAC has reported that, to date, they have not received any complaints regarding engine damage due to alleged compromised fuel,” a release issued by the groups said yesterday.

The entities said despite having no evidence to corroborate fears of bad gas, they will be increasing monitoring of the sector to give the public greater confidence in the integrity of their fuel supply.

“All fuel entering the market, through legal means, at the point of import or refinery must be certified by the BSJ/NCRA prior to release. Any fuel which fails the specification is detained and barred from release in the market until found to be satisfactory,” the release said. It also urged consumers with complaints to report them to the BSJ and the CAC.

Paulwell is also seeking, among other things, an update on the drafting of a new Petroleum (Quality Control) Bill and Regulations and the establishment of a petroleum inspectorate in the BSJ fully equipped to test samples of petroleum throughout the chain of custody.

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News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here

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Happy hour for used liquor bottles – Red Stripe doubles price for returns but insists there’s no shortage

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Andrew Smith

Faced with a 10 percentage-point drop in the rate of used bottles and high costs of purchasing new ones for its products, beer manufacturing, production and distribution company Red Stripe has been forced to double payment for each bottle returned to the company.

A media blitz by the company, including via text messaging and full-page advertisements in the major local newspapers, calls for individuals to return bottles and be paid $20 for each and $600 per 24-bottle crate. The company hopes the announced increase will entice individuals to return their empties in a surge.

Red Stripe bottles, including flavoured beers such as Sorrel and Lemon; Heineken; Guinness; Malta; and Smirnoff Ice, are in demand by the company.Gleaner sources have indicated that there is a chronic shortage of bottles at the company, a claim denied by company officials.

“There is no chronic shortage. We spend millions of dollars every year for new bottles and we want to reduce our costs. We have been working on this project for years to ensure there is value for the returns. We are taking a short-term hit, but will reduce the purchase of new glass significantly,” Dianne Ashton Smith, head of corporate relations, told The Gleaner.

The beer giant said recycling figures have declined over the last 10 years, coming from a high in 2009 with 95 per cent of bottles being returned, to 85 per cent in 2018.

Reduce environmental footprint

According to Managing Director Ricardo Nuncio, “ … Sustainability informs all we do at Red Stripe, and it is important that we reduce our environmental footprint. We needed to provide a greater incentive for closed-loop recycling of bottles, in which bottles come back into the production cycle and are cleaned and refilled with the same product.”

Nuncio believes the low cost of each returned bottle was the reason consumers sent some to landfills.

“While everyone wants to do what’s good for the planet, the low value of the bottles made it easy for consumers to discard them. We are confident that the increase in the redemption value of our bottles will drive a culture shift so that buy-drink-return becomes a way of life in Jamaica,” the release said.

The company’s release said a glass bottle can be reused up to six times in the production cycle without losing its purity and quality.

Middlemen are not expected to pay the full $20 cost per bottle and the company is urging individuals to visit its distribution centres in Kingston and Montego Bay. Returns will also be accepted at wholesales across the island and at Red Stripe 214 Exchange in Kingston.

The company said it reserves the right to reject bottles and crates that do not meet its quality standards.

[email protected]

News Credit: The Jamaica Gleaner | Read here

Regulatory agencies say they have no evidence to support claims of bad gas

Regulatory agencies say they have no evidence to support claims of bad gas

by Myesha Broadie

The regulatory agencies that monitor fuel have indicated that they have no evidence to support claims of bad gas, as is being reported in the media.

In a joint statement today (February 18), the Bureau of Standards Jamaica BSJ, National Compliance and Regulatory Authority, NCRA and the Consumer Affairs Commission CAC said they have taken note of the reports on foul-smelling fuel.

This morning, members of the respective boards of directors and relevant executive teams convened a joint meeting to discuss the concerns raised.

BSJ Executive Director Dr. Dwight Ramdon told Irie Fm News, that the BSJ and the NCRA have no evidence of contaminated fuel in the market place, and that all fuel on the market meets required specifications.

It was further noted that the CAC has no report of vehicular damage as a result of fuel, in the last 90 days.

He said the agencies will continue to monitor fuel quality.

News Credit: IrieFM | Read here

KSAMC begins talks about replacing Golden Bridge in Stony Hill

KSAMC begins talks about replacing Golden Bridge in Stony Hill

by Myesha Broadie

The Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation has begun discussions with other entities, including the National Works Agency, about efforts to replace the compromised Golden Bridge in Stony Hill.

A crack appeared across the road yesterday (February 17) after a truck attempted to cross. The incident also resulted in broken National Water Commission, NWC, water mains that were under the bridge.

The bridge has been closed to both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams, along with the corporations civil engineers, as well as representatives from the NWC and the NWA, visited the site today to conduct assessments.

The team also met with residents to come up with suggestions for an alternative path.

It was noted that residents could access the community, by foot, via another route close by.

Mayor Williams says the NWA and the civil engineers are examining proposals to replace the bridge.

He explained that a temporary bailey bridge is not being considered.

In the meantime, the National Water Commission, NWC, has begun repair work on the pipeline, under the Golden Bridge in Stony Hill St. Andrew, that was broken after the bridge was compromised.

Teams from the NWC, and the National Works Agency, NWA, as well as from the Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Corporation visited the site today (February 18).

Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams said the NWC has already sent out a truck to distribute water to affected customers in the community.

Earlier today, the NWC held an emergency meeting to discuss solutions to the problem created by the compromised bridge.

Two raw water mains, which supply the Seaview Water Treatment Plant, were broken.

The Seaview Water Treatment Plant, which is the fourth largest water treatment plant in the corporate area, has been shut-down.

This has resulted in hundreds of residents in Stony Hill, sections of Jacks Hill, Skyline and Mount Ogle, being without water.

Corporate Public Relations Manager at the NWC, Charles Buchanan said the commission is looking at what options may be possible to respond to the situation.

He said the situation poses a challenge to the commission, as parts of the areas served by the Seaview Plant, cannot be served by any other facility.

News Credit: IrieFM | Read here

Court orders psychiatric evaluation for woman charged with stealing baby from Victoria Jubilee Hospital

Court orders psychiatric evaluation for woman charged with stealing baby from Victoria Jubilee Hospital

by Myesha Broadie

The court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation of the woman charged with stealing a day old baby from the Victoria Jubilee Hospital last month.

27 year old Peta-Gaye Ffrench of Hawkers Hall, St. Catherine appeared today (February 18) in the St. Andrew Parish court.

She was remanded to return to court on March 13.

Parish Judge Vaughn Smith ordered psychiatric evaluation for Ffrench following an application made by Attorney-at-Law Rachel Donaldson.

Ffrench was arrested by the police on February 5 when she attended the Registrar General’s Department at Twickenham Park, St. Catherine to register the birth of the stolen baby.

Some staff members became suspicious after Ffrench gave conflicting information about the birth of the baby boy and called the police.

The child was reunited with his parents after DNA tests were conducted, confirming he was the baby stolen on January 9.

News Credit: IrieFM | Read here

CRH Renovation Projections Likely to Keep Rising, says Prof Gordon

Chairman of the Cornwall Regional Hospital oversight committee, Professor Archibald McDonald, says the most recent estimates for the completion of renovation work at the western-hospital, won’t be the final figure.

The independent oversight committee appointed by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton to oversee the ongoing restoration work at the problem-plagued Cornwall Regional Hospital in St. James, is now estimating repair work could cost up to $3.5-billion. That’s more than $1-billion higher than initial projections.

Initial projects done last year estimated the cost of the restoration work to be $2.2-billion.

Professor McDonald says it’s impossible to know the final figure until the work is closer to completion.

He says issues were discovered during the restoration work that cost the estimates to increase by about 50-percent.

Meanwhile Professor McDonald says it could cost up to $40-billion to build a new facility of a similar size the what is currently available. He says the hospital’s restoration is scheduled for completion by May next year.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here

Former IDT Adjudicator Calls for Review of Labour Laws

A former member of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal, IDT, is calling for a review of Jamaica’s labour laws.

The former IDT member, Rion Hall, is supporting a call made by at least three groups representing local businesses, for a revision of the country’s Labour Laws of 1976. Mr. Hall says the labour laws cause the IDT to favour employees.

According to Mr. Hall, the laws were designed to be employee-oriented.

Mr. Hall says as things stand, the IDT will rule in favour of an employee even if the worker has done something wrong, as long as the employer breaks the tribunal’s procedure. He says when he got to the IDT in 2010, he pushed for this practice to be amended.

Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association, JMEA, Metry Seaga, says the government has been slow to respond to requests from business owners that would make them more compliant with labour laws when it comes to dismissing employees.


News Credit: Nation Wide Radio | Read here

Stafanie Taylor up two places on ICC Women’s ODI Batting Rankings

Stafanie Taylor up two places on ICC Women’s ODI Batting Rankings

by Wayde Brown

West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor has moved up two spots to number 8 among batters on the latest release of the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s One Day International Rankings.

It comes after she compiled a series leading 158 runs, including two half-centuries, for the Windies women in the recent three-match ODI series against Pakistan in Dubai.

The in-form Deandra Dottin who moved up one place to number 20 and Hayley Mathews at 27 are the next highest placed West Indians.

India’s Smriti Mandhana meanwhile, leads the ODI Batting Rankings ahead of Ellyse Perry of Australia and Meg Lanning of New Zealand.

Taylor in the meantime is second behind Perry among all-rounders with Dottin in the no. 9 spot.

Among bowlers, Taylor continues to pace all West Indian at joint 13th alongside Dane van Niekerk of South Africa with Windies teammates Anisa Mohammed (25) and Shakera Selman – up 8 places to 26 – also in the top 30.

Pakistan’s Sana Mir continues to occupy the no.1 spot with Megan Schutt (Australia) and Jhulan Goswami (India) rounding out the top 3.

The Windies Women following their 2-1 series defeat to Pakistan are 5th on the ICC Women’s Championship table on 11 points.

Australia leads the way on 16, New Zealand are third on 14 followed by India and Pakistan on 12.

The top three teams along with World Cup 2021 host New Zealand will gain direct qualification for ICC’s pinnacle event. The remaining four sides will get a second chance through the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier event in which they will be joined by six teams from four regions – Africa, Asia, East Asia Pacific and Europe.

News Credit: IrieFM | Read here