Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Bad gas saga poorly handled

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2016 | 1:00 AM

Let us assume that a large company like RUBiS is aware that a shipment of petrol is on the high seas and per unit of gas, the price is better to the company than it would be had it been purchased from the refinery at Petrojam.

RUBiS would be able to do so because it has the largest storage facility of gas in Jamaica, plus it manages about 50 branded stations across the island. First, the arrival of the shipment would be accompanied with a pre-shipment condition certificate, which is essentially a document stating the exact quality of the gas shipped.

Second, a sample representative of the whole shipment would be routinely collected by in-house personnel, and it ought to be automatic that a representative of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) visit and also collect a sample.

Question: Does the BSJ possess the necessary tools and equipment to carry out verification tests to ensure that the quality of the gas is at least as good as the quality range set out in the pre-shipment condition certificate?

It is my understanding that the BSJ is not, and instead uses the facility at Petrojam. This, to me, is troubling simply because BSJ must also certify the quality of the finished product produced by Petrojam after crude oil passes through the refining process.

I have not so far determined the mode of product testing carried out by BSJ, but the nation has been told that investigations into bad gas percolating through unnamed service stations has resulted in 17 unnamed service stations being shut down temporarily.

Most have opened since and, to date, the report detailing the investigations has not been released. It seems to me that Minister Paulwell does not have confidence in the very report his science, technology, energy and mining ministry has commissioned. Of course, I can appreciate his reticence because the report cannot be even one-tenth of one per cent off the mark or a big lawsuit will be in the making.

What many Jamaicans find most disappointing is that the consumer - the vehicle owners who bought the tainted products (I did, too) and suffered as a result - have again been treated as if they are mere bystanders in the process.

In truth, the reality points to large gas-marketing and -distribution companies operating in an environment where Jamaica needs them more than they need us. Or that is how it is sold to us. At the same time, as much as the Government of Jamaica operates solely on behalf of the people of Jamaica, many of us know the real truth.

The people are merely pawns and, at this time, detailed investigations and the nearest we have to a comprehensive report are being held back. The full result makes it appear that Minister Paulwell is going soft on the marketing and distribution companies.

Has the report outlined the BSJ's role in the matter? Jamaica is a small country and it would not surprise me if the final report reveals certain incestuous relationships which ought to be questioned, at least, and broken up, at best.

 

GAYLE REPRESENTS THE JAMAICAN MALE

 

Christopher Gayle is easily the most exciting 20/20 cricketer in the universe. He is brash in his play and it is just as obvious that the 36-year-old star is a 'player'.

He is a star, he is Jamaican, he is handsome, and his charm cannot be bothered with subtlety when he lets it loose. Chatting up an Australian reporter who was interviewing him was in very poor taste not only because he should have stuck to the subject of his profession while being interviewed, but his chatting-up delivery was plainly crass.

Love it or hate it, it is a Jamaican thing. I find it more than amusing that a man and his wife or girlfriend will step out of a $10-million car and as they walk through the parking lot, a man with tattered shoes and worn-out clothes will say to the spiffily dressed woman, "Lady, leave di man and come deh wid mi. Mi wi treat you better dan him."

That takes cojones, but it is Jamaican. It seems to me that Gayle was having a problem navigating between making a joke and scoring well on a pickup. I am certain that if the rather attractive female reporter had responded to his invitation for a drink later by saying, "OK, here is my number," he would not have said, "I was only joking."

I think that many men take their cues from their fathers and close circle of male friends. Chris Gayle is the product of a society where women are seen as little more than walking distributors of sexual pleasure. I am no prude, therefore, I will not join the brigade of those who want to vilify him and act as if they are the final arbiters of all that is good and holy.

I honestly do not believe that he had willingly set out to put her down or disrespect her. He obviously, genuinely did not know where to draw the line.

 

THE PNP IS STILL FIGHTING IN THE FOREST

 

The new year has greeted the People's National Party (PNP) with some of the 2015 hangovers that it could do without. The recent blocking of roads in support of Raymond Pryce, the outgoing NE St Elizabeth member of parliament (MP) and one of the youngsters in the party which represented the changing face of the PNP, was definitely not needed.

We are made to believe that some unruly supporters simply took it on themselves to cut down trees and use them to block the public thoroughfares and sought no direction from those farther up the PNP hierarchy in St Elizabeth. That area is not so grey.

In the end, Pryce openly offered his support to the man who upended his MP status. That was pretty good politics, and whether the PNP wins the general election or not, Raymond Pryce has a quite rosy picture in the PNP.

Then there was the slashing of tyres to the car owned by John-Paul White, the man expected to replace Patrick Atkinson as MP for North Trelawny.

The fact is, 2016 is merely days old and the divisions and the hurt of 2015 still linger. Again I state that the weakness of the PNP secretariat, while not the direct causes of these skirmishes, has not done enough to convince the PNP worker in the trenches in more than a few seats that healing will come any time soon.

What may happen instead is that other constituencies where open divisions and verbal assaults accompanied the change of caretakers in 2015 may take their cues from Trelawny and St Elizabeth and embark on disruptive behaviour in this very month.

What these skirmishes do is send a broad signal to the general population that the leadership of the PNP is weak. The Gen Sec Paul Burke is weak and needs to walk around with a fire extinguisher. The leadership of the area councils are very obviously not in any mood to take directions from him.

Someone like P.J. Patterson must be utilised to quell these disturbances. Party leader and Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller may not take too kindly to the elder statesman treading on her territory but it is obvious that she needs help.

The pickings are rich for the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party. It needs to keep its factions in check if even to show up the ruling PNP and its open disarray.

- Mark Wignall is a political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and observemark@gmail.com.