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Transport groups plan silent protest for ‘peace, justice’ in sector

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Transport operators Development Sustainable Services (TODSS) and the Jamaica Association of Transport Owners and Operators (JATOO) say they will be staging a six-day silent protest to get the Government to give a listening ear to the problems they are facing in the transport sector.

The groups said that the six-day silent protest will start on Monday, March 25 when they will have blue ribbons on their vehicles. The transport operators are calling on the State and civil society to “understand what they are going through and come to their rescue”.

The protest will end on Saturday, March 30.

“We are concern at the lack of parking space in the Corporate Area and across the island which create overflow PPV vehicle at major intersections, which give rise to physical confrontation and confrontation by the state”.

The groups noted that there has been no fare increases in five years, a situation that they say have given rise to indiscipline in the sector, especially in the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region, where thousands of Public Passenger Vehicles (PPV) are fighting to make a living in the same space.

“This is a silent cry for justice and a cry for help. We call on all public transport operators to wear something blue this coming week, turn on your headlights between 11:00 am and 12 noon each day,” the groups urged.

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Over $1m raised for mammograms for Portland women

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The Sir Henry Morgan Angling Association (SHMAA) says it has raised just over $1 million to pay for mammograms for Portland women.

The announcement was made at SHMAA’s 56th Blue Marlin International tournament at Errol Flynn Marina in Port Antonio, Portland.

The money will be handed over to the Action Ann Foundation.

“We have a special donation of $60,000 from SHMAA and the National Health Fund, another $60,000 to the Action Ann Foundation to provide free mammogram tests for the women of Portland. I am putting it out on the floor for others to donate,” tournament director Maxim Rochester said.

This was followed by pledges totalling just over $1 million.

Member of Parliament (MP) for Portland Eastern Ann-Marie Vaz noted that the contribution is a “fitting one” for the month of October.

October is observed as breast cancer awareness month.

“One of the issues that most Members of Parliament face in the rural areas is our women are afraid of the mammogram and have been afraid, so they never go to get a mammogram,” Vaz pointed out.

“Breast cancer, as we know, with early detection, can be cured and you live a healthy life,” she added.

Vaz, in the same breath, shared that it was her husband Daryl, Member of Parliament for Portland Western, who encouraged her to get tested.

“My personal story is that about three years ago I went to do my mammogram. My husband is the one who took me to the doctor. So men encourage your women to go and get their mammogram; it’s a partnership.

“I went along because I [thought] I was just going to get a lunch date with my husband. Lo and behold they found a [lump] in my left breast. This is the first time I’m publicly telling my story and my world stopped in that moment because you are faced with this crisis. [It wasn’t] until I got back the diagnosis that I was clear that I started encouraging women to do the mammogram because it saves lives,” Vaz said.

The MP said with the money raised, Portland women will be transported into Kingston to have tests done the Action Ann Foundation.

Portland is currently without a mammogram machine.

“I am so thrilled and my undying gratitude to you all,” she said.

— Everard Owen

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Blue Mountain fun

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Blue Mountain fun

Zipline course added to BM Tours’ range of activities

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 14, 2019

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Operations at Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours (BMTours) in Portland have expanded to include zipline activities, Manager Rohan McLeod has revealed.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East last Wednesday, McLeod described the new addition as “unique and exciting”.

Blue Mountain Bicycle Tours is a sustainable community-based tourism initiative which began in 1991.

“Our zipline is 1,000 feet long and it is the longest continuous zip line in Jamaica. All the others go from one landing to the next but ours is just one straight thing across,” McLeod stated.

He boasted, too, that it is the highest zipline in Jamaica, primarily because of geography and height above ground.

Activities are expected to begin before the next winter tourist season Observer North & East was told.

“It will be our newest attraction to the Blue Mountain. We wanted to add a difference because we have been doing the bicycle tours for [almost] 30 years and so we decided to add zipline to our repertoire to make things more exciting. We’re also looking at, for the future, a rock climbing wall to make it one big, fun thing in the Blue Mountains,” he shared.

While locally, the business enjoys “tremendous” support, McLeod noted that the company’s clientele is mostly made up of tourists from the United States, with a few coming in from Europe and Canada.

“Based on the feedback we’ve been getting I think our zipline business is going to go very, very far. It’s going to be huge. Every week we’ve been getting calls from locals and persons from overseas, even on our Facebook page, persons contacting us asking how soon because they are eager to come. Persons are really geared up and ready to go,” McLeod stressed.

The custom-designed zipline, surrounded by unspoilt mountain environment, is in keeping with the company’s eco-awareness.

Each course offers panoramic views of mist-covered peaks and pristine, emerald valleys, the manager promised.

While not disclosing the figure for the heavy expansion, McLeod noted that it was a “tidy sum”.

That includes the cost to train team members, as well as acquiring international certification.

“Myself and the rest of the team have been suitably trained. We went through 16 weeks of training under the guidance of a team from Costa Rica and got our international certification. The safety gear that we use is very expensive, with one single set costing almost US$1,000. One of those safety gears can hold weight of up to 600 pounds.

“We also do tandem ziplining, where if someone comes and they are a little bit nervous one of our certified guides will be able to take the person across,” said McLeod.

The end of the course is topped off with a trek to a waterfall within close proximity.

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Murder, rape down in Portland

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Murder, rape down in Portland

BY EVERARD OWEN
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 14, 2019

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THE police are reporting a 28 per cent reduction in major crimes in Portland when compared to a similar period last year.

The figure for shootings, however, remains the same.

The information was disclosed by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Beresford Williams, who was acting for Superintendent Duane Wellington, at a recent press conference in the parish.

“We are happy to report that the Portland division is enjoying a reduction of 28 per cent in crime. As of this time last year, we had recorded 80 crimes and as of the same period this year we have recorded 58,” DSP Williams said.

Eight murders have been recorded since the start of the year when compared to the 11 recorded over a similar period last year. The figure for shootings is similar to last year’s five. There were six reported cases of rape last year but that figure has been reduced to two since the start of this year. Cases of aggravated assault are down to two when compared to the eight recorded over a similar period last year. Eleven robberies were recorded last year at this time; since the start of this year, five robberies have been reported.

“One of the challenges that we find is that of the eight murders recorded, approximately 50 per cent are domestic-related in nature. As a management team, we have decided that there is a need for increased interaction with citizens across the parish,” DSP Williams shared.

“We have been going out in the last two months into the varying districts right across the parish to have discussions with the citizens, alerting them of the need and how to deal with domestic dispute, as well as any other issues that they might have relating to the job. We believe those meetings have gone well and I say thanks to all the stakeholders who have participated with us and in particular the [Portland] municipal corporation,” he added.

Of the eight murders committed so far, the police have arrested six people.

“Presently, we are seeking the public’s assistance in arresting one Elroy Griffiths otherwise called (o/c) “GREG”, who is a security guard and his last known address is Olivier Housing Scheme in Buff Bay for the last murder that was committed on August 20 in that same district.

“We are seeking your assistance in bringing him to books. We are also seeking the public’s assistance in arresting Everton White o/c “Barby” of Cornwall Barracks district for a murder that was committed in 2015. They are the two most wanted in the parish currently,” DSP Williams said.

“We also have on our wanted list Tammo Hase o/c “Tommy” of White River, who is wanted for shooting with intent earlier this year in February and Marlon Bryce from Plymouth Hill, Port Antonio wanted for burglary and larceny; Peter Swaby from a Port Antonio address, who is wanted for robbery with aggravation,” he added.

At the same time, Williams said the Portland police are on a drive to tighten traffic management in Port Antonio.

“I say thanks to the traffic department who has led this operation and the [Portland] municipal corporation for working with us to make this drive the success it has been so far and we aim to tighten the screws as we participate in the Area Two ‘Operation Restore’.

“This has several aspects, including tightening control at our borders as we work with all divisions close to us — St Thomas, St Mary and St Andrew. We will be tightening up on the anti-vending in the town. This will help to arrest our wanted persons, arrest persons involved in lotto scamming, persons involved in the drug trade and other crimes.

“We ask our motoring public as we step up these drives to bear with us, as there will be some delays from time to time but it is for your own safety and security. Last year, we arrested in this division over 100 strange men wanted for several crimes in other parishes,” the cop said.

Meanwhile, the parish has recorded seven fatal crashes so far this year, when compared to the four recorded over a similar period last year.

“That is a significant increase in terms of percentage and the drives on traffic management is aimed at reducing these numbers. We have already surpassed the five [in total] recorded last year and we have no room to play with and we hope through our action and through the drivers cooperating with us and becoming more responsible so we can hold it at the seven,” he stated.

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