Looking BACK at 2014
This being the first Sunday in the new year, Automotives takes a look back at the 12-month period which has just ended, month by month. Enjoy a leisurely motoring through the major news about the fascinating world of automobiles, as brought to you by Jamaicas premier publication about the sector.
5: Although they save on fuel costs, hybrids (which are powered by a combination of gasolene and electricity) are proving a hard sell in Jamaica.
Tracy-Ann Fletcher of Toyota Jamaica, which includes the Prius hybrid in its line-up, told Automotives: It has not really been as popular as we thought it would have been. It is taking some time for persons to get used to. A lot of people dont understand hybrid technology and they are afraid of it. But we hope that over time, and with more advertising in educating the public, they will realise the benefits.
12: The National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is sticking to its Below 240 road-fatality objective, despite that figure being exceeded in 2013. There were high hopes for the revised Road Traffic Act being passed, which would be a major step towards achieving a significant reduction in the death toll.
12: The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) announces that its cashless and park-and-ride systems will be expanded. Park and ride from Portmore to Kingston was introduced in 2013, with commuters encouraged to park at the JUTCs facilities in Portmore and use the state-run companys units to and from the capital.
19: Illegal gas vending continues to be a problem, with two men charged after being found operating a mobile gas station.
Past president of the Jamaica Gasolene Retailers Association, Trevor Heaven, told Automotives: You cannot have a man who just gets a container and puts this in the back of a truck and goes out and sells fuel. Its ridiculous.
26: There is a booming business outside the United States Embassy in Liguanea as persons in the area provide parking for motorists visiting the facility. A short distance away, there is a marked increase in the number of young men at the Old Hope Road-Hope Road intersection wiping windscreens for a fee.
A police officer from the Matildas Corner Police Station explained that there have been a number of complaints from motorists about the mens behaviour.
We get complaints about the street guys at the light. When we send them on to court, they come back out. The mad ones, when we send them on to Bellevue, they treat them and send them back out. Their family doesnt want to take care of them or accept them, the officer said.
2: Kern Saunders operates a mobile tyre-repair service, mostly from his base along the I-95 in Portmore, on call to assist motorists as required. He says women, especially, appreciate the service.
Michelle Henderson, who has utilised Saunders services in a moment of crisis, told Automotives: This a blessing for many of us, as for a long time I prayed that something like this would happen, and here it is. I got a punctured tyre on my way home, I called and was assisted within three minutes, as this vehicle drove to where I was and the tyre was patched.
9: The JUTC says a pricing strategy to ensure that some of its units carry adults only is not discriminatory. Students can take the buses if they are willing to pay the adult fare.
Clinton Clarke, communications manager for the JUTC, explained: In the past, our ridership had declined because adult passengers had difficulty travelling on our other buses with children and their bad behaviour.
16: Automotives starts a human interest series on persons who have survived car crashes with Shanique Samuels, whose right leg was amputated after a 2006 crash while she was a student at Clarendon College.
16: Motorists are advised to heed the Park at Your Own Risk signs in many parking lots, as there is no compensation for damage to the vehicles in the spots.
23: The issue of loader men persons who claim to be assisting public-passenger vehicle operators for a fee is raised once again.
While there are claims of extortion and harassment, one loader man in Half-Way Tree, Shawn, says, I wouldnt call it extortion. We show the people respect. We are not extorting any taxi. It is a hard task. Imagine being in the sun, no shade, and shouting.
2: Scampering and clambering, pedestrians continue to cross Marcus Garvey Drive in a dangerous manner, stepping over guard rails and climbing the concrete divider on the busy roadway.
9: As the Jamaican currency continues to devalue, it affects the price of car batteries, which is already high.
The price for the batteries, comparatively, from a global standpoint, may not be expensive, but what really affects us are the constant changes in our local economy and, of course, the recent Customs changes that happened last year, says sales manager of Tropical Battery Company Limited, Ronald Donaldson.
16: The Ministry of National Security plans for traffic tickets to be distributed electronically.
23: The JUTC honours the defending champions by doing special wraps on units which transport the Holmwood and Calabar teams to Boys and Girls Athletics Championships, popularly known simply as Champs.
23: As Need for Speed opens at Carib 5 in Cross Roads, St Andrew, King Midas Mufflers organises a mini-car show of some hot rides outside the cinema.
30: Garfield Coke develops the Fuel Finder application, which the 26-year-old Utech graduate says will assist motorists in finding the lowest fuel prices.
6: Members of the Joint Caucus of Transport Operators form a team to monitor its franchise operators within the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region, disputing the operations of the police in keeping an eye on the privately owned buses.
6: The Jamaica Used Car Dealers Association asks for assistance as imports of used cars for the first quarter are down 40 per cent, compared to the same period in 2013.
13: Race car driver Doug Hollywood Gore will get the chance to show his track skills in the company of Lewis Hamilton (who would go on to win the 2014 Formula One Championship) at the Tope Gear Festival, Barbados, in mid-May.
20: New rules are announced for drivers, which promise to make the Easter Monday meet at Dover Raceway, St Ann, more exciting than usual.
27: An articulated bus seized in Cross Roads, St Andrew, because of debts owed by the JUTC is released and returned to the public transportation system.
27:The auto sales sector welcomes a duty cut which becomes effective on May 1. The changes, announced by Finance Minister Peter Phillips, will see the customs duty (Common External Tariff) on vehicles with engines of 2,000cc and above reduced from 30 per cent to 20 per cent. The SCT rates will change by 10 percentage points on petrol or diesel vehicles with engine ratings over 3,500cc, and on hybrid vehicles.
4: As figures are finalised, up to the end of March more people have died on the nation’s roads than in 2012 and 2013. Eighty-two lives were lost in traffic fatalities up to the end of March, compared to 64 in 2013 and 61 in 2012. As the second quarter began, there were 23 fatalities in April, compared to 28 last year and 18 in 2012.
Rural bus operators consider legal action to challenge the Transport Authority and JUTC over the new rule preventing them from picking up or letting off passengers in the KMTR.
11: Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Transport, Works and Housing, Dr Morais Guy, said very few complaints about corruption have been made against examiners at Island Traffic Authority facilities islandwide.
18: Managing director of Grennell’s Auto School, Alphanso Grennell, announces that the company’s Road Safety 5K on Saturday, June 7 will bring greater awareness of the victims of road crashes.
The Jamaica Race Drivers Club officially announces the presence of five overseas drifters for its second meet of 2014. The Seaboard Marine Total Dover Drift Invasion and Speed race meet is slated for the Dover Raceway, St Ann, on Saturday, May 24, and Sunday, May 25.
Automotives is impressed with the Jianghuai Automobile Company S5 luxury SUV.
25: David McKay, board member and a director at the Motor Repairers Association of Jamaica, suggests importation of damaged vehicles into the island be regulated, rather than banned.
1: SKDP Haulage and Distribution Limited announces that it will recycle discarded tyres to create various products, some of which will be used to repair Jamaica’s road surfaces while others will be exported to generate foreign exchange. The Jamaica Rubber Products initiative was launched at the University of the West Indies, Mona, under the theme, ‘Recycling for a Sustainable Economic Future’.
Race car driver Nigel Edwards is thanking his lucky stars after his Volkswagen GTI Golf rolled over several times during the running of one of the IP 29 races at Dover Raceway a week ago.
8: The JGRA officially marks Road Safety Awareness Month.
The bid process for roads is revised to accommodate concrete. Public relations officer at Carib Cement, Lystra Sharp, said in the past, concrete road construction would have been much more expensive than asphalt, but that has changed.
15: The sixth staging of the Jamaica Driver and Traffic Safety Expo will take place on Saturday, June 21 at Jamaica College, Hope Road, St Andrew.
A number of heavy fines are proposed under the bill for the revised Road Traffic Act. Among them are crossing a funeral procession (up to $10,000 from $2,000) and using an object to damage a motor vehicle ($50,000 or 15 days).
22: Toyota Jamaica announces its Bus Di School competition, which will see one institution being given a new Toyota Hiace minibus.
Vivian Mitchell breaks into Jamaica’s CMRC team. Natasha ‘Chiney Dolly’ Chang is also heading to Barbados for the regional event.
29: The first phase of the Transportation Centre Modernisation Programme is done at the Downtown Municipal (Pechon Street, Kingston), Naggo Head (Portmore, St Catherine), Nashville Park (Mandeville, Manchester), Ocho Rios (St Ann) and Montego Bay (St James) centres.
Transport operators are planning a protest ahead of a rise in toll fares on Sunday, July 6.
6: Smaller cars in the under 700cc range, such as the Suzuki Alto and Daihatsu Mira, are not selling well despite being more economical to own and operate than larger cars.
At the half-year mark, road deaths continue to outpace the previous year’s figures. There were 157 traffic fatalities from January 1 to June 25, compared to 138 for the corresponding period in 2013. At the same time, JAA chairman Earl Jarrett said a meaningful road-death target for Jamaica should be no more than 100 persons annually.
13: Through dry cleaning and trucking water, car washes continue to cope with an ongoing drought.
Neville Baker has started a mobility assistance service, which facilitates people in wheelchairs.
The JUTC announces that it will insist on seniors and students using Smarter Cards to pay their fares, instead of coins, as it moves to lessen losses.
Nicola Orr introduces the WATSA-LESS system for motorists to keep their vehicles clean in drought conditions.
It is announced that, for the Emancipation of Speed meet at Dover Raceway on August 3, the first Long Short Walk for Road Safety will be held.
3: Senator Robert ‘Bobby’ Montague donates a car to Tacky High School in Gayle, St Mary, to be used for driving lessons.
10: The National Environment and Planning Agency is working on developing a policy to eliminate harmful vehicle emissions in Jamaica. To this end, an inspection and maintenance policy, which will require that each motor vehicle’s exhaust meets a certain standard before being passed fit, is under consideration.
Repossesions by lending agencies rise as the economic downturn hits more motorists.
Gloria Goffe, executive director of Combined Disabilities Association, is optimistic that the Disabilities Bill passed in Parliament on July 22 will bring an end to what she describes as segregated travelling for the disabled in public passenger vehicles.
17: Motor-vehicle theft is again trending downwards, with the police attributing this welcome reduction to their proactive strategies and operations.
More than two weeks after being flung from his motorcycle during the Emancipation Day meet at Dover Raceway, St Ann, Renaldo Colquhoun is still hospitalised. Colquhoun’s relatives are unsure when he is likely to be released.
24: The recently opened section of the North-South leg of Highway 2000, which bypasses Mount Rosser, has been deemed safe for motorists by prominent road-safety advocates, who are satisfied with the safety mechanisms and response systems in place. This is after a number of complaints by users about overheating when going uphill.
The drought has proven profitable for water truck operators, who are making cash from water parties as well as everyday water needs.
7: One million Euros is invested in the equipment for a JUTC Heavy-Duty Repair Programme at Lyndhurst Road, St Andrew. Work will be done to repair units owned by the state-run bus company.
The Transport Authority is determined to crack down on buses which carry too many persons, putting in extra seats which did not come with the vehicle.
14: Head of the Flying Squad, Senior Superintendent Cornwall ‘Bigga’ Ford warns about a car-stealing strategy in which criminals rent cars on Friday and sell them over the weekend.
21: Used car dealers complain that financial institutions are biased towards new cars in setting lending terms, as a much higher deposit is required for second-hand vehicles.
The Jamaica Used Car Dealers’ Association (JUCDA), through its head Lynvalle Hamilton, opposes calls for an extension on warranties for used cars which are sold by dealers.
While there appears to be no immediate plans to introduce a jaywalking law in Jamaica, the new Road Traffic Act is expected to address the duties of pedestrians as they utilise the nation’s roadways.
5: Radical North America is coming to Jamaica to put their high-powered cars to the test against Jamaica’s top drivers at Dover Raceway on Heroes Day later in the month.
12: Total Jamaica launches a fuelling card, which can be used at its service stations across the island.
26: It is announced that the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) 2014 Motor Show will cost $20 million to stage.
2: Padmore Primary School wins a 2014 Toyota Hiace minibus in Toyota Jamaica’s Bus Di School competition. (PADMORE...)
Students at Jonathan Grant High School in St Catherine appreciate new sidewalks at their school, making the walk to and from the institution much safer.
9: Out of an initiative implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), a mobile business clinic has been created to give a fresh approach to working with micro, small and medium enterprises
16: The Kiwanis Club of Liguanea in St Andrew is renewing its call for road safety with a public-education campaign that targets motorists who use their cell phones to text while driving.
23: Despite economic woes and the country’s high crime rate affecting this year’s running of the prestigious motor sport event Rally Jamaica, chief organiser Larry Henriques is still expecting an exciting finish among the handful of confirmed competitors.
The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) says the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) will be billed for the cost to repair buses allegedly damaged by their supporters on journeys to the party’s 71st annual conference.
30: A senior magistrate at the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court, Maxfield Avenue, St Andrew, expresses concern over the number of motor vehicle fraud cases coming before the court. She warns, “We’re going to make the full wrath of the law fall upon the children of disobedience. We are going to make special provisions for those people in my cell.”
7: Earl Jarrett, chairman of the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA), proposes that Jamaica adopt the United Nations (UN) standards for motor vehicles. These include vehicle safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and theft-resistance as basic standards. Speaking at the official opening of the 2014 ADA Motor Show at the National Arena, he says the current standards for motor vehicles imported into Jamaica are limited to “having installed seat-belts and that the manual should be in English.”
Silver Star Motors, the local authorised distributors of the luxury brand Mercedes-Benz, has partnered with the Alpha Institute, its neighbour ‘across the road’ in downtown Kingston, for a silent charity auction at Strawberry Hill, Irish Town. The proceeds will go towards the development of Alpha’s vocational programmes.
14: There will be increased breath testing for alcohol over the holiday period, as road death surge past 300 for the year.
Through a series of open Track Days organised by the JAA in partnership with the JRDC, which were held at the Dover Raceway in St Ann, in July, August and September, drivers of all ages got a chance to test their skills on the island’s pre-eminent motorway. The series will continue in 2015.
21: Automobile owners will soon be able to benefit from discounts, with the availability of an automotive coupon magazine to be launched next year February. The coupon magazine is being done by Jamaica Auto Directory and consumers will be able to access approximately $1,000,000 in savings on goods and services from automotive sector businesses through the offerings in the book.