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corn beef

More Caribbean countries place ban on corn beef and meat products from Brazil

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Mar 22, CMC – The number of Caribbean Community (CARICOM)countries placing a temporary ban on the importation of corn beef or meat products from Brazil increased by two with Barbados and the Bahamas joining their CARICOM partners from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica.

The Bahamas government said that it is aware of the meat scandal unfolding in Brazil relative to food inspectors taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats and that the South American country has suspended exports from 21 meat-processing units.

corn beefIt said to safeguard the Bahamian population it is placing a “precautionary ban of meat imports from Brazil.

“Until further notice, no permits for the importation of processed meat products from Brazil will be issued. This includes corned beef as well as other beef products and beef by-products.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources will continue to monitor this issue over the next 60 days and should we be satisfied that imports from Brazil be resumed, it would be with the following proviso that beef must be slaughtered and processed at an approved Government abattoir and processing facility”.

In addition the Bahamas said there would be need for a Sanitary certificate to accompany all imports from Brazil an inspection of all batch containers be done at the Port of Entry, an import permit must be sought by all importers from the relevant Government Agency and a registry must be compiled of all importers of beef and beef products from Brazil.

Meanwhile, Barbados has implemented its own temporary ban with Senior Veterinary Officer, Dr. Mark Trotman, indicating that the ban had been effected pending further investigation as to whether any of the product had come into the island.

He is also advising retailers to withdraw all Brazilian meat products from their shelves and warned consumers not to purchase corned beef or other canned meats manufactured in Brazil until the investigation was completed.

 “As part of our investigations, samples of product are being collected and will be analysed by the Veterinary Services Laboratory and the Government Analytical Services Laboratory,” he added.

Posted in Featured, Health, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

st luciaexplo

Four killed, several others injured in explosion

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Mar 22, CMC – At least four people were killed, more than 20 injured and at least four others airlifted to the neighbouring French island of Martinique as police launched an investigation into an explosion at a construction site in Cul de Sac, east of here on Tuesday evening.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has called on the nation to pray for the families of the victims.

st luciaexplo“Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and those who are still waiting to find out information about their family members. You are all in our prayers in this difficult time. We must all support each other at this time and pray for our fellow St. Lucians,” Chastanet said.

“We must say thanks to the emergency personnel, the police and fire officers, who responded to the incident and who are still working tirelessly … at the site to find persons. The staff, the nurses and doctors, of the Victoria Hospital, who responded, some without being called and who are working overtime to attend to the injured must be thanked for their selfless dedication in the wake of this crisis,” he said, adding that the incident has taken the nation by shock.

The explosion was heard miles away, shattered glass windows and doors of nearby businesses, and destroyed offices and several pieces of heavy duty equipment on site.

It remains uncertain as to what caused the explosion but a supervisor told reporters that it may have been triggered by workers engaged in a welding operation in close proximity to a container loaded with explosive material, including dynamite.

Initially, many persons in communities further away from the blast, called state radio saying that they mistook the explosion for an earthquake, as another section of the capital engaged in a major regional tsunami response exercise referred to as “Caribewave 2017”.

The exercise held across the Caribbean and Latin America stimulated a widespread tsunami watch and warning situation throughout the region requiring the activation of local tsunami response plans.

According to health officials 22 persons had been brought to the Victoria Hospital (VH) with four people, including three at the site confirmed dead.

The officials said that four persons had to be airlifted by military aircraft to Martinique and that one person is reported missing following the incident that occurred at Rayneau Construction.

Posted in Featured, Local, News, Police, Regional0 Comments

Dunkkley

Opposition calls for Premier to step down or call fresh general election

By Ivan Clifford

HAMILTON, Bermuda, Mar 17, CMC  — The opposition Progressive Labour Party (PLP) has demanded Premier Michael Dunkley steps down or calls a snap general election after backbencher Mark Pettingill resigned on Thursday, leaving the ruling One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) as a minority party.

Pettingill, a former Attorney-General and legislator for the past 10 years, said he would sit as an independent in his Warwick North East constituency until the next election, due later this year, when he would probably quit politics altogether.

Dunkley, whose OBA won the 2012 general election by 19 seats to 17 but has now lost two of its MPs, described Pettingill’s departure as “disappointing” but refused to cave in to PLP demands.

Dunkkley
Premier Michael Dunkley

Pettingill’s colleague Shawn Crockwell, a former tourism and transport minister, resigned from the OBA in protest at Dunkley’s leadership a year ago and has since sat in the House of Assembly as an independent.

It means the OBA and the PLP each has 17 MPs in the House of Assembly, with two independents, although the PLP’s Randy Horton is the Speaker of the House and can vote only in the case of a tie.

Governor John Rankin was asked for comment on whether the Pettingill resignation required him to act, since the government no longer had a majority of members in the House.

A Government House spokesman would only say “in considering any developments in the House of Assembly, the Governor will continue to act in accordance with the terms of the Bermuda constitution.”

Pettingill said he felt compelled to leave the governing party due to conflicts with his legal work, revealing his firm, Chancery Legal, has been in talks with patients of former PLP Premier Dr Ewart Brown, after police recently raided Brown’s clinics.

Pettingill added that he “diametrically and philosophically” opposes the government’s position on numerous issues.

The PLP said in a statement after Pettingill told the media he was quitting the OBA that the Premier should resign or call an election.

“The news that yet another OBA MP, Mark Pettingill, has found it necessary to resign from the party he helped found to sit as an independent calls into question the direction of the country and is yet another signal that the leadership of Michael Dunkley is directionless, ineffective and weak,” the PLP said.

“It should be jarring to all Bermudians that we now, for the first time ever, have a minority government at the helm, and that the OBA cannot secure the passage of any legislation without the assistance of the independent or opposition members.

Mark Pettingill
Mark Pettingill

“On the anniversary of the day MP Shawn Crockwell resigned from cabinet over the government’s mishandling of immigration, this is yet another sign that it is time for the Premier to either resign or go to the country and seek a mandate from the people through a general election.”

In an earlier statement, Dunkley described Pettingill’s resignation as a “disappointing development for a government that has been making steady progress on big problems facing the people of Bermuda”.

“While (Mr Pettingill) explained that he found himself in ‘ongoing professional legal conflict with the government’ on various matters involving his law firm, I also note his statement that the government ‘will have my support on any number of pending legislative matters’.

“I therefore look forward to continuing to work with MP Pettingill on the important matters facing Bermuda — as well as the other independent MP Mr Shawn Crockwell — and thank Mr Pettingill for his service to the OBA.”

In recent months, Pettingill has been a vocal critic of the party he helped to form in May 2011. This year, he delivered a speech on race in the House, which revealed his deep concern with his party’s handling of the issue and was praised by several PLP MPs.

“I have this morning advised the Premier that I will be resigning from the One Bermuda Alliance. I intend to sit as an independent MP until the next general election, at which time I will likely resign from politics,” Pettingill told reporters on Thursday.

“I find myself in a position of ongoing professional legal conflict with the government on various existing litigation and potential matters that my law firm has been approached about having conduct over.

“Furthermore, I have unfortunately found myself diametrically and philosophically opposed to the government’s position or approach on numerous issues in endeavouring to move Bermuda forward. I respect that the Premier, and the cabinet, takes a different view.

“In the interest of the country, I sincerely wish the government every success for the remainder of their tenure in office, recognising that they have in fact accomplished many positive things for the island.”

Pettingill was first elected as an MP for the now defunct United Bermuda Party (UBP), which ran the country for 30 years until it was ousted by the PLP in 1998, in Warwick West in 2007.

Two years later, he was a member of a breakaway group of UBP MPs which formed the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA). In 2011, the BDA merged with the UBP to found the OBA.

In the 2012 election, Pettingill switched to Warwick North East, where he defeated long-serving PLP MP Dale Butler as the OBA won power for the first time.

Posted in Featured, International, Local, News, Politics0 Comments

Pastor jailed for having sex with a minor

Pastor jailed for having sex with a minor

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar 10, CMC – A pastor has been jailed for 20 years after he was found guilty of having sex with a minor two years ago.

Justice Lorna Shelly Williams Friday sentenced Pastor Reverend Paul Hanniford of the Pentecostal City Mission Church after he was found guilty by a seven-member jury on January 24.

Rape fear – alarm

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (OFPP) said the complainant, who is now 15 years old, testified in court that on March 12, 2015, she and her five-year-old brother went to the church for choir practice and after the rehearsal they asked the pastor for a ride. 

But the Home Court was told that the child, who was a member of the Pentecostal City Mission Church and was baptised by Hanniford was taken to the pastor’s home in Kingston.

“The pastor gave the five-year-old some cornflakes to eat. The complainant requested the use of the bathroom and while there in the bathroom the pastor entered. The complainant was pushed by the pastor outside the bathroom onto a bed that was inside a nearby bedroom and sexually assaulted her,” the ODPP said in the statement.

The Court was told that the child managed to push the pastor off and went outside of the bedroom to meet her brother, who had heard her cries for help.

The statement said that the brother had climbed onto a chair and peeped through a hole in the door and observed Pastor Hanniford sexually assaulting his sister which made him feel “sad”.

According to the evidence presented to the court, after the incident the pastor gave them some cornflakes to eat and later warned the complainant not to tell anyone as it was their “secret”.

He took them back to the church where the mother of the children met them. The complainant’s brother made a report to his mother in the presence of the pastor about what he had seen.

The following day a meeting was convened at the church with the bishop, the pastor, the complainant, her brother and the children’s parents.

On April 14, 2015, a report was made to the police and the pastor was arrested. He was subsequently charged.

In his defence at the trial, the pastor denied having sexual intercourse with the complainant and said that he had given the children a drive out but not on the day in question.

Posted in Court, Crime, Featured, Local, News, Regional, Youth0 Comments

New Power Plant panels

New Power Plant in operation

“Testing carried out with potential short breaks”

The report is, “how encouraging it must be for electricity consumers,” when Montserrat Utilities Ltd. (MUL) on Tuesday reported that power has been restored island wide with the introduction of the new power station generator set on to the grid in a testing phase. MUL’s Managing Director David Thompson said then, barring two short interruptions, the new generator will then be tested for a one week period carrying the base load at the plant.

Following the upbeat though cautious promise of the Montserrat Utilities Ltd. Manager, David Thompson on Friday last week, the week began on Monday with more electricity power outages and new load shedding schedules.

Thompson told ZJB News, “We failed to find an alternative option to provide extra electricity so we are gonna have to rotate back give power to the south and remove power from the north at 6 and work through the night to provide electricity. The Manager says he knows how frustrating that can be trying to carry on a normal life,” as he himself has suffered from the experience having to be without power.

But, in 24 hours came the good news about the power being restored island wide even though there was the risk of short interruptions, the Manager being as cautious as he has come to prove he must be. In the meantime the situation exposed the weaknesses that have bugged the usually reliable ‘Monlec’ now under the merged company MUL, for the past three years when it had been anticipated, the new plant would be installed; and even the probability of geothermal power all this time.

Thompson explained: “That situation should stay surely until about midnight we’re hoping.”

He explained further: ”Between midnight and eight o’clock sometime during that time we may either have to load shed because the new generator has to come off and we have further test – or we need to put some coolant in one of the radiators.”

He said, “One of the engines has being running non-stop for a while if we have to load shed tonight it might only be for an hour or two or it might be for three or four hours because we don’t know what the situation is till we get there.”

He ended still hopeful, “Tomorrow we hope to introduce again the new generator back in a testing mode and we will see and learn how we go from there and there’ll be further updates tomorrow.”

So far the situation has held with the Minister of Communication and Works meantime giving a full update to the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, as he looked at the immediate solution in addition to the repairs being undertaken on the temporary generators.

The Minister reported the situate as above as he detailed the week from Monday this week, expecting that the majority of the repaired parts for one of the functioning generators “have now arrived island and repair works on this engine is expected to commence today.”

He detailed further: “The new 1.5 megawatt generator as part of the new power station project has been tested and commissioned,” confirming the Managers reports.

He said efforts were made to synchronize the new generator into the grid, and that during “those three-hour testing period the new generator was able to carry the load of up to 1.2 megawatts.”

“The next steps in the process of integrating the new 1.5 megawatt engine,” he said, “is to undertake the reliability trials and performance tests of the engine,” which he says involves the reliability trials -operating the engine on the commercial load non-stop for a week. “Uupon successful completion of the reliability trials the engine will remain on the grid and the performance test will then start. “

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DSC_9462

Ferry lands passengers at Plymouth

Jaden Sun ferry’s inaugural landing at Port Little Bay because of rough seas

By Bennette Roach

“Every disappointment is a blessing.” On Wednesday, March 8, 2016, those were the joyful words of many of the passengers some of whom were waiting since late Sunday,  March 5, to take the ferry trip over from Antigua to Montserrat.

Beyond the disappointment, the blessing was their participation in the inaugural berth of the Jaden Sun ferry at Port Plymouth following much debate and discussion, beginning no doubt when the Jaden Sun captain declared that he is prepared to get people to Montserrat after rough seas prevented possible landing at its usual berthing at Little Bay port.Rough seas at Port Little Bay meant that the ferry could not dock there forcing alternate arrangements to ensure passengers reach the island by sea. This had prevented further travel since Monday through Tuesday and into early Wednesday, when the access division put its contingency plans in place to facilitate passengers coming to the island.

After waiting for the decision from Montserrat which was expected for a departure at 9.00 o’clock, I was among a total of seventy-seven (77) passengers leaving Antigua at 12.00 noon, who disembarked at Port Plymouth in what appeared to be a near seamless operation. The voyage across on the ferry was near normal and smooth, and eventless in terms of the high seas which were not as high as anticipated from the reports, but obviously high enough inside and closer to land preventing possible or worthwhile berthing to land passengers.

Passengers enjoyed more the extended voyage to the still operable jetty in Plymouth in the exclusion zone which is used under guidance or with clearance of the Disaster Management Coordination Committee, co-chaired by Her Excellency the Governor and the Honourable Premier. The joy was the fact that there were many of the passengers some of whom had never since the crisis began in 1995 had seen Plymouth and as far south as they could see, especially from the vantage point on sea.

The passengers were shuttled to the Salem police station where they were processed by Immigration and Customs. Some of the passengers on three buses, were processed by an immigration officer on board, having only to await the arrival of their bags and processing through Customs.

ZJB News reported going to Plymouth to observe the operation and then to the Salem police station where some of the passengers spoke of their voyage from Antigua among other things. Winston Kafu Cabey was part of the roving ZJB News team.

Posing the question to the well-known artist of varying talents, “Pops I know this was something different but how was the voyage and the whole operation in your opinion coming off down in Plymouth?” he responded. “Well first of all we want to congratulate the captain of the boat, very professional he gave us a real smooth ride down and then he was corporative. Communicating with us and tell us exactly you know what is going to happen and when we docked at Plymouth I think the Customs and the organization who organized the bus and people coming off the thing was quite orderly.

Another passenger described their experience, but had unfavourable comments about the processing on the bus, reason noted.Oh, it was fine, the voyage was fine the captain was wonderful how he sorted everything out. And then we got here and obviously we’ve been travelling all day we’ve got two little babies five month old twins and they wanted us to sit on the bus while we filled in bits of paper. You know to what is more important little babies being sick or filling in bits of paper for nothing.


Keithroy ‘The Bear’ ‘The Voice’ Morson had this to say, showing his new found political role and his obvious intention to continue from his unsuccessful bid to become a legislator. “Well the whole process was all right in terms of you know making it affordable for us to come in because a lot of people were stranded in Antigua but I’m going to reiterate we shouldn’t be in this position. After twenty years we should not be docking in a danger zone. We should have had a breakwater put in so that we could come out at Little Bay or at Carrs. So yes I appreciate that government has used the initiative and done that and it’s the first time but we need to get out of this mess.”

The ZJB report informed how the ferry was forced to dock at Port Plymouth because of rough seas. But in related news noted that “Mr. Ashley Lindsey took up his position this week.”

The report said, “he was a part of the emergency meeting that took place earlier Wednesday at the Governor’s office to decide on alternate arrangements for the ferry to dock at Port Plymouth. The access division along with other key agencies including the Royal Montserrat Police Service, the Disaster Management Coordination Agency, the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, Fire and Rescue Service the Ministry of Health among others were very instrumental in ensuring that the operation of Port Plymouth came off successfully.

The one fact that was a disappointment, there were no plans to take persons travelling to Antigua that evening on the ferry.

On Thursday passengers waiting to come over  from Antigua were afforded travel by air

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DPP at court opening

No retrial for Warren Cassell

By Bennette Roach

The Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal (ECCA) accepted all the arguments that were put forward in presenting the appeal against the Montserrat Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) desire to retry Cassell. The DPP argued generally that “the main consideration is whether in the interest of  the community and  the victim, a person who is convicted of a serious crime  should be brought to justice and not escape merely because of technical shortcomings in the conduct of the trial or in the directions to the jury…”

The appeal court headed by acting President of Appeal Justice Louise Blenman refused DPP Oris Sullivan’s request and his bid to retry Attorney-at-Law Warren Cassell, who previously had his conviction squashed by the Privy Council. On Tuesday this week, Cassell was back in court in a bid to fend off this latest bid to have him retried by the Montserrat D.P.P.

Attorney at Law Warren Cassell

The Privy Council in its last ruling, quashing all the convictions, had indicated that any matter to do with a retrial was down to the ECCA. The matter then came back to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal who has ruled that it is not in the interest of justice to order a retrial.

The ECCA judges this time upheld the arguments of Cassell’s Attorney, Dr. David Dorsett arguments in their final decision.

Last July, Attorney Cassell, had multiple convictions quashed by the Privy Council.  Nonetheless, the Privy Council (which is still the final appellate court for the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat) maintained that any issue for retrial should be resolved in the local courts.  As a result, the ECCA invited written arguments from both parties on the issue.

The learned DPP argued that retrial was necessary to establish guilt or innocence of the charges.  However, during his oral presentation, he was asked by Justice Louise Blenman for case law where a retrial was re-ordered in similar circumstances. Mr. Sullivan was unable to provide one.

In his written submissions, Cassell’s Attorney-at-Law Dr. David Dorsett argued that Cassell had served his two-year sentence in full and a retrial would serve no purpose since he cannot be sentenced for any time more than the sentence past in the first trial.

In delivering an oral unanimous ruling, Justice Mario Michel noted that there were several factors that the court ought to consider in deciding whether to order a retrial including:

  • Seriousness of offence
  • Nature of offence
  • Strength of evidence against the appellant
  • Publicity which the trial had obtained and whether it would operate to prejudice the appellant; and
  • Interest of justice.

Justice Michel further reasoned that Cassell had already served his full sentence and that the DPP has failed to provide any case law where a person who served all of his sentence and was still retried.  In conclusion, Justice Michel stated that: “we are of the view that the interest of justice would not be served by ordering a retrial.”   
The Court sought from Sullivan arguments to support his request for a retrial against Dr. Dorsett’s arguments that had been laid prior before them along with those of the DPP.

One argument that Attorney Dorsett, whom the Court told that it was not necessary to address after hearing from the DPP, was “The court did not order a retrial but indicated that the Prosecution was at liberty to do so.,” noting that no re-trial was ever pursued.

He also argued: “…it cannot be maintained that the offences for which the Appellants have been convicted (i.e Conspiracy to defraud and Procuring the Execution of a Valuable Security by Deception), fall into the category of being “serious”.

“While the Appellants are in no way trivializing the said offences an examination of the cases reveal that the courts consider offences such as Murder, Manslaughter, Robbery and Drug Trafficking as serious crimes – offences for which the sentences vary from 20 years to life imprisonment.”

That ends a chapter of Cassell’s life that he says will be very interesting when recaptured in a book. Cassell is the author of several books already, and is the editor at WestIndianLawyers.com.

Posted in Court, Crime, Featured, News0 Comments

doctors-still-using-gynecological-too-after-FDA-warning

Doctors plan strike in indecent assault arrest

The news spread in a most unpredictable way and perhaps because of all the publicity and an awareness that is somehow not necessarily presented to curb the disturbing effects of a problem.

On Wednesday evening in the ZJB evening news a report which turned out to be shocking on the one hand and not so surprising on the other. “Police say they have arrested a medical practitioner for allegedly indecently assaulting a patient. A senior police officer told ZJB News that the investigation is in an infancy stage and that the medical doctor is now assisting the police with their investigation.

“The report of the alleged indecent assault by the doctor was made to the police by a young woman. The Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS) in the middle of their 50th year celebration, is now appealing to members of the public who have suffered sexual or indecent assault at the hands of a medical practitioner on island to come forward with information.”

In a surprising move while early speculation had sadly turned wild over social media, some of the medical professionals and practitioners on island may appear to have somewhat unwisely broke protocol of procedure surrounding such incidents of a sexual nature with the police.

What followed was unpredictable and provoked comments and reaction, some which legal opinionists and even authorities are saying can or are already out of hand. It is to be noted that the news services were this time proper in that no name was mentioned as is expected, which left conjecture and guesses to play to occupy minds who relish such news.

Dr. Ingrid Buffonge along with surgeon specialist Dr. Bramiah Kassim, other medical doctors Gopal and wife Asha Gopal appeared live on ZJB Radio and pledged their strong support for so far, the unnamed medical practitioner.

ZJB’s Basil Chambers was the host. “We are here as a team, as a group of doctors, in support for our colleague, Dr. …” Dr. Buffonge began, expressing disappointment for what she said, “the way the whole thing was managed…”

Dr. Buffonge, almost in passing mentioned that the doctors “today we’re on strike, seeing emergencies only.” But she had added: “As medical professionals we spend a lot of time with patients and therefore we’re particularly vulnerable to accusations like this and therefore I think as a team we’ve got to put things in place to make sure that such things don’t happen again. There are some doctors who do not see patients unless there is a chaperone there and of course as you can imagine in private practice this would cost money it might mean that private practitioners have to double their fees or at least increase.”

Dr. Buffonge also said, “We spent the morning with him in court just to let him know he has our support,” she added, saying the strongly believe that their colleague is innocent.

The doctors revealed that while in court they learnt that the charges were brought  on the accusation that the Doctor had touched the woman’s breasts, her abdomen and her buttocks.

Dr. Kassim meantime, made the added point showing concern and expressing that he was troubled: “If you have to walk into a doctor’s office and get examined and you come out and you can go to the police station and accuse this person who you went to see as assaulting you with the mere fact that you have been examined, is really serious.”

His worst concern: “Now, the second aspect of this which is what troubles me most is that by just going to the police station and telling somebody that then you as a physician get arrested. One after you get arrested your image has been tarnished as somebody who actually touches patients or assault patients in their office and then at the end of all when everything is finished and the core process is over the procedure is over and you say then it comes out that that was really not the fact then what happened?” He asks further, “What happens with your image? Who clears that image?”

The other two doctors gave their support saying they endorse what the previous two practitioners had said, concurring the allegation against Dr Perkins was a serious ‘indictment’, (accusation) of the medical profession on Montserrat. One of these doctors said he was very uncomfortable with the thought that he can end up in the ‘lock-up’, so, “I’m leaving – its goodbye Montserrat.”

By the end of the day reacting to statements of strike by the doctors, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Lowell Lewis said that there were no disruptions to services at the Glendon Hospital or health centres, adding that there will be no scarcity of the services provided by the dedicated medical professionals on the island. He told ZJB News Wednesday afternoon that there were no disruptions to services at the Glendon Hospital or Health Centres on island.

He confirmed all doctors reported for regular duty which they perform up to four p.m. The C.M.O. says the government is now making arrangements to recruit a local physician to cover the services of Dr Perkins who is on leave, with regards to the on-going matter involving Dr Perkins the island’s most senior medical doctor says the medical fraternity has no intention to undermine the process of law and will contribute to serving the people of Montserrat or that should be continue to serve the people of Montserrat as they have for many years.

Soon after the doctors made their feelings known on the issue, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Oris Sullivan did not see or accept any of the points of the doctors, but accused them of not allowing due process to take its course, saying the comments were highly inappropriate and disappointing.

I think it’s highly improper and downright wrong for any doctor or anybody else to go on public radio and comment on a matter that is pending before the court,” DPP Sullivan began in an aired comment to ZJB radio.

Sullivan continued: “One has to be mindful of the right to a fair trial that is on the part of the accused, but also there’s a right for any complainant to have the matter ventilated before the court and in fairness to the complainant that is where the issue should be resolved. Potential jurors are listening the entire population of Montserrat could potentially be jurors on this matter and to go on the radio to me [is] tantamount to trying to influence potential jurors in this matter. But to potential victims it would seem to me that when doctors are involved the potential victims who have some kind of fear or reluctance in going to doctors knowing the position they have taken with regards to one of their number.”

But it wasn’t just the DPP who did not find favour with the doctors. A women’s support group released a statement communicating its disappointment in what it described as the dismissal of this young woman’s claims by respected medical professionals.

As reported, the Women’s Resource Centre’s (MWRC) ‘voluntary’ Executive Director Shirley Osborne labelled as very unfortunate and discouraging the fact that the onus was always on the girls and women in Montserrat to prove the allegations rather than on the alleged perpetrators to disprove them.

Saying that is aware of the allegations and recent arrest of Dr. Perkins and wishes that none of this were true, the group says it is deeply disturbed that any young woman on Montserrat ever has grounds to make reports of this nature. In the statement, the centre says it stands in support of this young woman and all other victims and alleged victims of gender based assault.

In the Statement: “It is very unfortunate and discouraging that the onus is always on the girls and women in Montserrat to prove their allegations rather than on the alleged perpetrators to disprove them.

“Everywhere in the world, girls and women who feel or find themselves sexually assaulted to any degree, almost always also find themselves having to prove that they are telling the truth, that their word is as good as other people’s and that it is not their fault and they did not somehow “cause” the unwanted attention,” Osborne added.

Ms Osborne said that the MWRC would have preferred that everyone have accorded the legal system the opportunity to work and provide justice for both the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator and is cautioning “all concerned or interested to trust our system to do its work”.

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MUL-Generating-plant-1-web

Outages done – New Plant when?

Electricity consumers here are breathing a sigh of relief upon receiving news that the load shedding schedule that was in place for the past week has been discounted.

Very early in the report was that “the island will have to endure more load shedding possibly going in to the weekend.” That it did. But then, “the owners engineer arrived on site this morning and he had a look at the rental unit that we’ve got that was currently down.”

As of just about mid-day, today, the latest Montserrat Utilities Limited (MUL) update although with some caution, came the news that after several small repairs the main rented generator was back in service and load shedding would cease, “for the moment,” according to MUL’s manager.

The question left is whether this will last and for how long that will have to be so, as the island’s residents and business owners begin to calculate their losses that have come from one event to another and many. This, following the load shedding schedule that had been put in place over the past two weeks because of issues with the rental generator which severely restricted the electrical division of Montserrat Utilities Limited – MUL’s ability to provide the island with continuous power supply.

On Wednesday, the report was that the technician from RIMCO Puerto Rico, responsible for undertaking repairs to the rental generator at the Brades power station did not arrive delaying the repairs yet again. The RIMCO technician was originally scheduled to arrive here on Tuesday.

The managing director of MUL, David Thompson who must have been interviewed more times in the past few weeks than he had over his entire tour of duty in Montserrat so far said, “The situation as it is now lunch time on Wednesday we found out from RIMCO that they weren’t able to send the technician we were expecting today. They have said they will send him tomorrow so we have to stick with the load shedding planned for Wednesday obviously Thursday probably Friday as well. And we’ll find out more news about the repairs sometime on Friday and as soon as we know anything we’ll let the public know.”

The MUL manager David Thompson as far as he could go was right as on Friday, he filed this report with ZJB Radio. “You probably know from earlier news broadcast that the owners engineer arrived on site this morning and he had a look at the rental unit that we’ve got that was currently down. He found a number of small issues,” and these he said were resolved.

Giving his best news for two weeks he informed further. “So, just slightly after one o’clock this afternoon we were able to put the whole of the island back on power… So no more load shedding for the moment.”

But Thompson has learnt to be safe in caution. “I am sorry to be hesitant about this but you know the way these things worked in the past. The rental unit is still under test, the repairs are being carried out and appear to be holding and we’ll test it overnight and we’ll test it through tomorrow as well,” expressing hope for the present. “At the moment we have no more plans for load shedding.”

The manager explained that from tomorrow morning (Saturday) they will be looking at one of the other generators, “to see if we can take it offline and do some more, I would call minor repairs.” But then comes another caution. “No repair on a generator is really that minor to see if we can get that boosted in its delivery as well.”

 He hoped, “that we’re holding good for the weekend and for a good few days after that.”

That next few days is the time he is hoping that the engineer from Anglo Belgian Corporation who is scheduled to arrive on island Saturday with the part needed for the testing and the commissioning of the new power station, will in fact do so and the 13-year in coming new generating plant will spring into running operation of electricity supply.

The week ends with the anticipated hope, with the island at this point wary of the shedding and outages, still nervous, as they want to hear when they can expect uninterrupted power supply. Could that be the case as it is still not certain that early march could not be mid to late March, at this point if ever.

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REfurbished-genset-at-Brades

Power outages end New plant March

by Bennette Roach

In the November 25, 2016 issue, 12 weeks ago TMR’s headline story promised: Regular ‘Electricity Generation’ before Christmas, but with a careful proviso,Only without unexpected delay problems”. By today temporary generators begin to function, again with the new generating set firmly promised by March 10.

That proviso about unexpected delay was provided by Montserrat Utilities Ltd. (MUL) Manager David Thompson who, just like he had to do this week as we reported last November, responded to queries with numerous apologies and explanations of the now too familiar problems, of engines and alternators simply not keeping up with the continuous need to generate electricity.

One hard-working housewife responding to how things were in Montserrat told her guest, “’current’ issues driving us up a wall here.”

Meanwhile Attorney at Law Jean Kelsick while seeking answers has written to Premier Romeo, calling on him to petition the Governor, “to appoint a commission of inquiry into MUL’s award of the contract and mishandling of the building of the new power station.”

Kelsick noted to the Premier, “Serious questions have also been raised about MUL’s oversight of the execution of the contract and its failure to sack the contractor for a delay now exceeding one and a half years in completing the power station,” pointing out Montserrat continues to “…suffer untold hardship, inconvenience and financial loss.”

It had been expressed before that the standby generators being used while they waited for the new plant to be installed and operating, were short-lived, old, over worked and tired.

Financial stress

At the launch of the new plant project, DFID’s previous in country representative, Kato Kimbugwe in September 2011, explained the dire need for new generating equipment following PS Chambers comment. “Montserrat Utilities Limited is currently operating on five unreliable high speed generating sets, which have very high fuel consumption and a very high maintenance cost.” He added, “the high operating cost is reflected in the cost of electricity to the consumers,” a much talked about topic on every corner and by every consumer in Montserrat.”

Mr. Kato Kimbugwe, DFID’s Programme Representative explained that the containerised diesel sets were not built for permanent operation. He said they were designed for emergency situations and have a normal service expectancy of approximately 10 years. He added that some of the gen-sets were in operation for over 15 years and are in need of being replaced. He noted that the consumers have been affected by frequent power outages that have increased in recent times. Talking about what Kelsick reiterated in his letter to the Premier, he said then: ““….frequent power outages mean increased cost to households and businesses, in terms of equipment failure but more importantly for businesses, a decline in productivity; and significantly Montserrat becomes less attractive for investment at a critical time of its development.”

Breakdown and Outage problems

Manager Thompson had said in November when the problem was not as intense as it had been the past two weeks, ““We have identified a serious fault that would have caused the earlier damage,” cautioning, “Unfortunately, we don’t know if the repair will hold so we have to test it under pressure, before we can risk bringing the generator onto the grid.”

Breakdown of new generator testing
Replacement part needed – must be built

When Christmas came and went with no new generator in operation, the question was asked if the unexpected had materialised, and so it was. TMR had learned that at the point of testing a part that malfunctioned had to be replaced and needed to be built from scratch.

The new power station contractor’s representative and deputy manager of Angelique International Ltd of India confirmed this to ZJB news. “There’s a small component that we are sourcing which is supposed to arrive with an engineer from the engine manufacturer from Belgium. Once that equipment is here we have everything related to the commissioning in order,” he assured.

During the past two weeks when finally, MUL introduced a fixed schedule of load shedding outages across the island the Manager had nothing really new to say except he explained what the problems and efforts being made to correct them.

“OK, the recent outages have been caused by problems with a unit that we’ve rented from Rimco we’ve eventually tracked down that problem to a loose wire hidden within the unit that was fixed,” he said earlier prior to the severe outages, cautioning; “and now the island is back on power and we hope that that fix will obviously hold; there’s (are) no guarantees in this game.”

At that point also, he merely hinted to the ‘unexpected’ problem. “…as I say we still work on the testing and commissioning (referring to the new generating plant), and what’s happened so far is that testing has shown two or three weaknesses in the systems that we’ve had to repair, not repair but strengthen…”

Those weaknesses he mentioned translated in the part, also referred to by deputy manager of Angelique International Ltd of India Mohammed Alzade, that had to be resourced and built new. Mohammed confirmed, “…(the part) we are sourcing which is supposed to arrive with an engineer from the engine manufacturer from Belgium.”

He said, “Once that equipment is here we have everything related to the commissioning in order,” It will replace the faulty component with the new one and we can start conducting some of the tests that are required before we go on the grid.”

After that is done Mohammed also assured: “The test ensures that everything in terms of the alternator is responding to the controllers.”

He added that this is the plan going forward to bring the generating plant into operation, adding, “Once that is in place we would start a reliability run which is a one week run to provide continuous power on to the grid, the, “After this run we would then start relocating some of the existing engines that we have with MUL and start integrating them to the new system.”

“That,” he says, “is the program that we have in mind at the moment.” https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-deisel-power-plant-done-deal/

The new generating plant debacle

These delays problem began from the failed effort of procuring development and installation of the plant since July 2011 or before, when as Kelsick notes today in his letter, “…Montserratians continue to suffer untold hardship, inconvenience, and financial loss.”

Nearly six years ago the observation was made, highlighted in a front page story, “New Deisel Power Plant – Done Deal (see: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-deisel-power-plant-done-deal/). Posted on 08 July 2011. “While there can be no doubt that Montserrat is tired to death of unscheduled power outages like those of Friday morning, the only thing the country fears more than them is a further increase in the surging fuel surcharge that dominates every electricity bill from MUL.”

That had followed this Montserrat officially launches $36 million Power Plant Project in October 2011, (https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-officially-launches-36-million-power-plant-project/).

It was before then that the talk of the high cost of electricity was a hot topic. There was the former Minister of Communications and Works Charles Kirnon, announcing the over the now over the top start of the already languishing project. “the Department for International Development (DFID), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and government of Montserrat have co-financed a EC$36 million power plant project that will pave the way for a transition to more renewable sources of energy.”

HMG (DFID) had provided some $23 million towards the project with questions going unanswered why another $7 million was required.

The debacle contract

This contract was to construct a power plant with a New 1.5 mw diesel Alternator installed intended to meet the uninterrupted needs of Montserrat and support the advent of geothermal energy. It was awarded to Angelique International Ltd. at a value of $18,326,841.00, just above half the nearest competitor Williams Industries Incorporated and Little Bay Limited, LLC, through its joint venture partners Philadelphia Electrical Equipment Company (PEECO) at $33,100,253. This was after the other bidder had competed in an earlier failed procurement process, which contributed to the early delays of this project getting off the ground.

Mr. Yogesh Gupta for Angelique Int. Ltd. with Peter White for MUL signed the contract which was to begin from December 5, 2013 is to last 504 days to June 1, 2015, but later information said it would start in earnest in January 2014 at a site ‘adjacent to the current power plant’.

It is from that Lawyer Kelsick makes his reference to the serious cases of power outages questioning MUL’s oversight of the execution of the contract and its failure to sack the contractor for a delay now exceeding one and a half years in completing the power station.

Local engineer Deon Weekes is the new generating plant project manager. He told ZJB News this week, that the principal emphasis now was clearly on providing a reliable energy supply to customers. That was from the mid-2000s and a contract which was supposed to begin in earnest in January last year after the project was officially launched in October 2011.

Weekes said they were functioning and aiming to get production going after all the frustration and financial woes, with the March 10 festival activities due to begin then. “Essentially we were working towards as quickly as possible commissioning the engine fully and providing power to the grid. We’re cognisant of the fact that we have a major activity starting around the 10th of March and we’re aiming towards providing reliable energy for that period including the performance online of the new gen-set, confirming waiting at the time for a replacement part.

 

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