Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Looking back at 2015

Published:Sunday | January 3, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Part of the audience at Hennessy V Black Tie Party at the Waterfront, downtown Kingston, in May 2015.
The 2015 Hyundai Sonata.
Total's T-Air design service station in Discovery Bay, St Ann.
Tony Rebel
The SenseHud system being used by a driver.
A conceptual drawing of the new Toyota Jamaica facility on Old Hope Road.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton (third right), cuts the ribbon symbolising the official launch of the mobile business clinic initiative (MBCI), at the National Commercial Bank Wellness Centre in Kingston on September 16, 2014. Others sharing in the moment (from left) are: Chairman, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Silburn Clarke; Marketing and Sales Manager, Fidelity Motors, Leslie Nembhard; Chief Executive Officer, JBDC, Valerie Veira; Senior General Manager, Retail Banking Division, National Commercial Bank, Audrey Tugwell-Henry9partly hidden); and Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams.
Camille O'Sullivan with the Stain Blaster.
Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies.
The plush seating in a Classic Limousine Tours vehicle.
Paula Fletcher, executive director of the National Road Safety Council.
File The Suzuki Ciaz
Dianne Ashton Smith, head of Corporate Relations at Red Stripe, and Jeffrey ‘Assassin’ Campbell.
Motorists drive into thick smoke coming from the Riverton City Dump on Spanish Town Road in May 2015.
Roger Foo
Charles Chen waves the chequered flag at the Carnival of Speed meet at Dover Raceway, St Ann, on Easter Monday 2015.
A Mitsubishi ASX is displayed during Moscow's International Auto Show in Russia last year.
Camilla Rennie (left), president of the Immaculate Conception High School JAA Junior Club, along with fellow club members Jheanelle Duhaney (second left), Sherika Hill (third left), Mishka Vassel (third right), Shanelle Sterling (second right) and Jheanine Panton.
Daryl King
File Firefighters from the Jamaica Fire Brigade putting out fire at a storage area for discarded tyres in St Andrew, next to the Riverton City dump. last April.
Red and white streaks from cars whizzing along the Palisadoes roadway.
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It is time to look back at 2015 in the world of steering wheels and rubber tyres. This week we cover the first four months of the year that has passed.

January

11: Parking at day, party at night. Junior Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Damion Crawford, is hoping that by next month car parks in downtown Kingston will be used as entertainment zones to accommodate much of the city's nightlife. "The assumption, and based on the test that we're doing, is that these areas will have limited impact on residential areas. There will be no need for a lock-off time. If you have these zones then there will be no need to have a lock-off time," Crawford said. "The car parks' usage often ends by 8 p.m. Events don't start before 10 p.m., The car park invariably starts back use by 7 a.m. on a weekday. On a weekend, there is no use for the car park." 

Duty damper: Imports of new and used automobiles have decreased markedly, with the downturn attributed mostly to the continuing slide of the Jamaican dollar against the benchmark United States currency. President of the Jamaica Car Dealers Association (JUCDA), Lynvalle Hamilton, and Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) head Kent LaCroix tell a similar tale of declining fortunes for the new and used-car sectors.

"Persons seeking SUVs and certain types of models such as the Toyotas and Hondas, they are much more expensive than other brands. That would cause them not to be able to qualify for loans," Hamilton added.

18: The St Thomas police continue to make headway in tackling car thieves in the parish, with a major operation recovering several motor vehicles and auto parts on a remote farm in Wilmington. Nine vehicles, including six Toyota Hiace buses and three Toyota Corolla motor cars, and an assortment of motor vehicle parts were recovered. The total value of the stolen items is estimated at over $18 million.

The police believe the vehicles were stolen by a ring that operates primarily in the eastern part of the parish. Several vehicles, mostly Toyota Corollas, were stolen in the Lyssons area in September 2014, prompting the police to increase their patrols there.

18: Automotives reviews the 2015 Hyundai Sonata and concludes "is not your average automobile. As you step inside, it screams futuristic and sophistication. You can't help but marvel at the many features the manufacturers were able to fit in. The executive-level, 2.4 litre, mid-sized car is packed with features for one's driving comfort - from Bluetooth radio to headlight washers to the sunshade packing itself away when the transmission is put in reverse, this vehicle is loaded on features. With its new design the Sonata's interior is sufficiently roomy to accommodate the legal three persons in the back, with a lot of space to spare." (SONATA ...)

18: As part of Total Jamaica Limited's ongoing steps to modernise its outlets and keep pace with a changing environment for providing fuel and other items to commuters, the company officially unveiled its first T-Air design in Jamaica at its newest station at Discovery Bay, St Ann.

"It's a response to some customer-satisfaction surveys that we have done, with the aim to improve the level of modernity within our service stations and to have our stations having a more integrated look with the environment. It takes into consideration a number of sustainable development factors, being more energy efficient and having a more earthly tone to the look of the service stations," said network manager at Total, Howard Henry. (TOTAL ...)

 

February

1: Operator of the Jamaica North-South Highway Company China Harbour Engineering Company Limited (CHEC) is crediting its precautionary measures on the Linstead to Moneague leg of the highway during the staging of Rebel Salute 2015 from January 16 17. The festival is held in Priory, St Ann, at Grizzly's Plantation Cove. With many of the thousands attending expected to travel from Kingston ahead of the event, CHEC anticipated a 20 per cent increase in revenue for that leg of the highway over the two days. "We made some safety arrangements in advance [which included] increased patrol frequency," said Lu Qin, manager of Operations, Jamaica North-South Highway Company Limited. However, while there were no fatal crashes, Qin did state that it was not a perfect track record for motorists. "There were some minor incidents such as flat tyres and overheated vehicles. We would like to remind motorists to check their vehicle's condition before travelling to the mountain area," he said. (RUMBLE ...)

25: Jamaica-born medical doctor Kingsley Chin is a renowned orthopaedic surgeon based in the United States, especially known for his expertise with non-invasive surgical procedures to correct spinal injuries. Chin found out accidentally that one of his employees, graphics designer Mike Amuru, was well advanced in producing a device that would reduce road crashes in the United States. Amuru, who designed store window displays, stumbled on a device which projected images on walls through a process, and with results he found interesting. It would grow to become the SenseHud (heads-up device), one of the more popular devices with drivers in the US who are inseparable from their cell phones. Chin and Amuru's eureka moment came when, after completing the device, it actually worked, and now some car dealers in the US are pre-installing SenseHud in the vehicles they sell. (CELL ...)

 

February

1: Toyota Jamaica Limited has broken ground for its newest location, with the objective of providing customers with greater convenience and continuing its high-level customer service. The ceremony, which was attended by Industry and Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton; general manager of Toyota Tsusho America Inc, Hiroshi Kitahara; and Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica Yasuo Takase, along with a number Toyota customers, was held at the 91A 93 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, site. This 26,000 square foot facility, which Toyota Jamaica Limited expects to be ready by January 2016, is a full '3s' set-up, which encompasses vehicle sales, servicing and spare parts. 

1: The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is reporting positive feedback from the second phase of the Mobile Business Clinic initiative, which was held in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, from the previous Tuesday to Thursday. In November 2014, through a partnership between the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the JBDC and partners in the public and private sectors, a series of mobile clinics was launched in western Jamaica. The first stop was in Montego Bay, St James. Corporate communications manager at the JBDC, Keneshia Nooks, said more than 200 persons turned out for the Savanna-la-Mar visit.

8: Bob Marley's matte-blue 1977 Series III Land Rover, which had been on display at 56 Hope Road for over quarter century and fallen into disrepair, has been completely restored. The project was done through Sandals Resorts International, ATL Automotive, ITC (regional distributors for Land Rover) and the Marley family. Adam Stewart, chief executive officer for Sandals Resorts International, credited Marley with giving Land Rover a boost in Jamaica. "Bob really raised the profile of our nation of Jamaica, and we felt the greatest gift we could give to him was to restore his original Land Rover to its former glory," Stewart said. The renovation project took two years, with parts being sourced from as far as Africa (the engine came from Ethiopia) and England. Cedella Marley did the upholstery design. Marley's Land Rover was returned to the legend's home-turned-museum located at 56 Hope Road in Kingston for his 70th birthday celebrations, and will also be a part of several celebrations around the island. 

8: Two weeks after 39-year-old wheelchair user Marlon King was killed in a crash with a Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) bus on Golding Avenue, near the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) there is no letting up in the call for changes to better accommodate persons with disabilities on the nation's roads. There is a heavy focus on the urbanised areas. There have been recommendations to replace uncovered manholes as well as discontinue the parking of motor vehicles and dumping of debris on sidewalks. "There should be a policy that if the sidewalk is not wide enough to accommodate a garbage skip, for example, it should not be there. People keep removing the manhole covers. We're appealing to the public to stop. It's not just dangerous to persons with disabilities, but it is to everybody. We have people who clean the drains and leave debris on the sidewalks," said Gloria Goffe, executive director of the Combined Disabilities Association.

15: Members of the Jamaica Classic Car Club turned out in their numbers at Tropical Splendour, the Ocho Rios Orchid Society's annual flower show and classic car event. Held in conjunction with Couples Sans Souci, the show was staged on the hotel's premises and showcased nature's plants to the man-made machines. More than 30 cars were on show, dating as far back as Paul Chung's 1931 Ford Model A. Chung also brought out his 1959 Austin Metropolitan, 1987 Porsche 924s, and his favourite, a 1972 BMW 2002.

22: The Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC) says the first leg of the Seaboard Marine CMRC Caribbean Invasion race meet and the 2015 race season is to be held from Saturday, February 28, to Sunday, March 1, at the Jamwest Speedway in Old Hope, Little London, Westmoreland. It is the first time that the CMRC will be held away from Dover Raceway in St Ann.

According to JRDC executive, Silbourne Clarke, there will be four CRMC legs this year. However, Barbados will not be in Jamaica for the first leg due to travel schedules for the cars not being worked out in time for the race meet. The other legs will be Trinidad and Guyana.

 

March

1: Lyndon and Camille O'Sullivan have come up with the Stain Blaster, a cleaning product which can be used extensively in the automobile industry. The couple of said the cleaning agent line, which includes the flagship Multipurpose Cleaning Solution, Stain Blaster and Tangie Clean variations, is doing very well. They are also very easy to use. "All that is needed is for you to just spray it on and wipe. All you will have is a clean, sweet-smelling surface," Camille said. The product is recommended for persons who need to remove a wide range of blemishes. These include bloodstains, mildew, ink marks, grease and general dirt. It is used by spraying on to the dirty surface, which is then wiped with a wet cloth.

1: Scores of schoolchildren in Clarendon are benefiting from the Government's Rural Safe School Bus Programme, which has been put in place by the Transport Authority (TA). Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies said the initiative is significant for the students' safety. While lauding the various agencies involved for their efforts in implementing the system, Davies singled out the Clarendon Parish Council, commending them for taking an interest in education. "It is very important that we ensure that our children are safe all the time, but especially when they are on their way to and from school," the Minister said, Davies said while private operators can participate in the school bus programme, they must adhere to strict codes put in place by the TA to prevent child predators from getting into the system. 

8: Classic Limousine Tours, was born out of the desire of a former employee in a similar business to resume a short-lived luxury transport service. "I worked with a company for three years. It then closed down, and having fallen in love with the service, I decided to start my own," Alex Smith, Classic Limousine Tours proprietor, said. First he purchased a stretch Mercedez-Benz with nine-person capacity. This was followed by a Lexus eight-seater, and then his Lincoln Town Car, a six-seater. "It has been six years now that I started the business and it continues to make all feel special, so we find it easier to handle the constant challenges associated with the operation," Smith said. 

8: Paula Fletcher's name is automatically associated with road safety. However, initially the National Road Safety Council (NRSC) executive director did not envision herself being at an organisation primarily concerned with reducing motor vehicle crash injuries and death. "It has been a professional path that was unexpected. It was certainly not where I thought I was going. But, having been engaged in it, it opened me to the possibilities of really having a strong impact on life and the quality of life and the development of a country," Fletcher said. The wife and mother of four children holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in Finance. She put in an application for a position at an organisation and was surprised at what turned up. "Having finished the MBA, I was amazed, because the position was not specified. I would not have applied had I known it was road safety, because at the time I didn't know anything about road safety," said Fletcher, who has been with the NRSC since 1996. 

15: The island's traffic police have taken issue with taxi operators across the island who cram numerous students commuting between school and home into their vehicles. The students, who are sometimes at the kindergarten or basic-school stage, are piled into station wagons made to accommodate a maximum of four passengers. In the peak school commute hours, early morning or late afternoon, youngsters on their way to and from school squeeze themselves into the uncomfortable travelling spaces.

22: The Suzuki Ciaz sedan is launched at Stewart's Auto Sales' Suzuki Showroom on South Camp Road in Kingston. "Suzuki wanted to make an authentic sedan. An authentic sedan in Suzuki's mind is something very good on performance, great on cabin space, always looking out for the passenger and driver and performance. It has a sophisticated, elegant look that gives a premium feel," said brand manager of Stewart's Suzuki division, Matthew Stevenson.

29: In 2013, Jeffrey Campbell, who deejays as Agent Sasco and Assassin, was one of the first entertainers to be involved in Red Stripe's Drink Right campaign to tackle alcohol consumption by persons under the legal age. In 2015 he did a jingle for the ongoing campaign, which focuses extensively on drinking and driving, addressing from the breathalyser test to accidents and making references to speeding and the Dover Raceway in the short song. Assassin told Automotives that he fully supports Drink Right. "Actions speak louder than words. My being a part of the campaign shows that I support such an initiative to promote responsible behaviour as it relates to the consumption of alcohol. It's a very dangerous practice to do otherwise," he said. 

29: Motorists who travel regularly through the Corporate Area, and especially those who live or work near the Riverton City landfill, are being advised by owner of T and T Auto Cooler Limited Derrick Taylor to check their vehicle's air conditioning filter.

This is after the most recent fire at the landfill, more popularly known as Riverton Dump, which began on March 11. While the resulting smoke affected much of urbanised Kingston and St Andrew and parts of St Catherine, areas such as Spanish Town Road, the Mandela Highway, and along Washington Boulevard were especially heavily affected.

The air conditioning filter, also called the cabin air filter, traps particles in the vehicle's air vents which would otherwise get into the car and affect the passengers. While most are located in the dashboard behind the glove box, there are those that are mounted against the firewall in the engine bay. 

 

April

5: United States-based Roger Foo, driving a borrowed Mitsubishi Evolution 4, will take on the challenging Dover circuit in the Easter Monday Carnival of Speed race meet. Foo, who turns 50 years old in September next year, came to Jamaica as a spectator a few weeks ago to experience motor racing first-hand. After president of the Jamaica Race Drivers' Club, Charles Chen, spoke about the challenging 1.6-mile long Dover Raceway, built in 1989 and which drivers navigate anticlockwise, he expressed an interest in taking on the Jamaicans. "We were having a conversation, that nobody has ever come to race at Dover for the first time and learnt the track in under 10 laps. He (Foo) took up the challenge and I gave him my private car and we went around the track. After about three laps, I was convinced that he could manage, so we extended an invitation for him to compete in Monday's (tomorrow's) meet," said Chen. 

5: Customers and associates of Paul Cole's King Midas Mufflers were treated at the premiere of the seventh movie in the Furious franchise at the Carib 5 Cinema, Cross Roads, St Andrew. "We are a household name but we do not want to take that for granted, because customers are always looking for new things," said Cole in explaining the reason for hosting the combination of a film viewing, mini car show, and car enthusiasts get-together. King Midas Mufflers has hosted get-togethers at previous Jamaican premieres in the Furious franchise. Outside Carib 5, moviegoers were treated to a live display of fast motor vehicles, in keeping with the car-racing theme of the movie. A R34 and R33 Nissan Skyline, modified two-door 1996 Honda Civic, modified 1996 Nissan pickup and a Suzuki Swift Sport were among the crowd-pleasers. Members of the Skunk Nation car club also brought with them their eye-catching machines. 

12: The last time he crossed the finish line at Dover Raceway, St Ann, was almost two years ago. So, when Charles Chen shrugged off the challenge of the country's top circuit racer, David Summerbell, for a nail-biting finish to one of the Thundersport II events, he was not only elated, but indicated this could be the rebirth of his racing career. The hard-fought battle was one of the high points of the Carnival of Speed race meet, which concluded on Easter Monday. "It is the hardest that I have ever driven for an entire race. I felt good that I was able to defend the race line," said Chen, who charged out of corner one ahead of the pack. He held the position until starter Alfred 'Soldjie' Clayton waved the chequered flag, signalling the end of the race. 

19: Vehicles such as the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Mitsubishi ASX, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-5, Suzuki Grand Vitara and Volkswagen Touareg rank high among the new vehicles preferred by customers and outsell cars which ride significantly closer to the ground. The Honda CR-V is also popular on the used-car market, as is the Toyota Vanguard (a slightly beefier ride than the RAV4) and the Nissan Dualis. In addition to their styling, the poor state of roads across the country is also given as a reason for the high midsize SUV purchases. "The demand basically is because of the condition of our roads; that's number one. People feel a lot more comfortable in a higher-riding vehicle and SUVs today drive more like cars than they used to in the old days," said chairman of the ADA, Kent LaCroix. said.

19: Girls dressed in white uniforms are not immediately associated with motorsport and the auto industry. However, students at the all-girls Immaculate Conception High School on Constant Spring Road, St Andrew, have embraced the Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) Junior Club since its introduction in September 2013. The growing club currently has more than 30 members who have implemented a series of high-impact initiatives. Club president Camilla Rennie, an upper sixth-form student, said, "The response to the club has been overwhelming, especially among the students in the lower grades who are eager to learn and are open to the idea of what the club is about." She also indicated that "the older girls are a bit hesitant; however, once they get a chance to experience the club and participate in the activities, they gradually become enthused." 

26: Just like how they turned out in droves to support Daryl King during his lifetime when he competed in some of the Jamaica Millennium Motoring Club's (JMMC) top-flight rally events, motorsport enthusiasts came out in large numbers to say farewell to Daryl King, one of the most popular of the younger race drivers from western Jamaica. A 30 year-old farmer of Ironshore, Montego Bay, who attended Russea's High in Hanover and Cornwall College in St James, King died of a heart attack on Thursday, March 26. His funeral was held at the St James Parish Church, Montego Bay, before interment in the Hillview Memorial Park. Daryl was part of a racing tradition in the King family. His father, Raynor, and uncles Stratton and Noel 'Bram Bram' King were the first set of racers in the family and were referred to as the 'Three Kings'. Daryl's father died in a freak accident 1995. 

26: On April 13, black smoke blanketed a section of Spanish Town Road, St Andrew, close to the Riverton City dump. Added to that a plume of smoke went high in the air, spreading harmful substances from the burning tyres even further. According to information provided by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the burning tyres, which are made mainly of metal and rubber, resulted in more than 100 types of pollutants being released into the air. NEPA said that "these species fall under the general categories of organic pollutants, criteria air pollutants, particulate metals and greenhouse gases." Vyvyan Howard, a senior lecturer in toxicopathology at Liverpool University, was quoted in a 2002 article by The Guardian newspaper as saying that "tyre burning emits ultrafine particles that have a toxicity all of their own." He added that, "The toxicity is even stronger if this contains metals such as nickel and tin, which you get when you throw the whole tyre into the furnace. If the metal content of the particles goes up, then there is going to be an increasing impact on health."