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I am doing my job, says Holness - Opposition leader declares post on Facebook not a move to politicise bad gas issue

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters at a mass meeting in Old Harbour, St.Catherine.

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Leader Andrew Holness has shot down suggestions that a video he posted on social media only serves to politicise the ongoing bad gas saga, even as he acknowledged that the clip is a re-enactment.

In the 26-second video that was posted to Holness' Facebook page last week, the former prime minister and his wife, Juliet, gets in a vehicle that stalled twice.

"Why is it behaving like that?" Juliet Holness asks in the clip.

"Bad gas," her husband replied. "This is what people have to go through every morning. People should be compensated for this," he added.

Yesterday, Holness defended the video and his right to use it, revealing that his motor vehicle was twice affected by contaminated gas.

"I reject any notion of politicisation. My car broke down last week Wednesday on my way to participate in the celebrations in Accompong ... (it) broke down on the highway," he said of his second experience with what he believe was contaminated gas.

"My job is to bring to public attention, using all forms of media, all forms of communication, the struggles that people face. I am doing my job," he underscored.

The JLP leader said his first experience came just before the start of the new year as he was about to take his wife to church in the St Andrew East Rural constituency she is set to represent in the upcoming general election.

"We didn't intend to film the car. It was an intention of filming me taking my wife to church; what her day would be like in her constituency, that kind of thing," he said.

"It so happened that when we went into the car, it wouldn't start, and that became the story rather than me taking my wife to church," he continued.

Holness claimed that the vehicle is now in the garage. "I don't know what has happened, but tomorrow I'll get the full diagnosis from the mechanic and I suspect that, between engine and injectors, I will have a serious repair bill," he added.

But was it more than coincidence that the former prime minister was with a camera crew for his first experience with contaminated gas?

Holness says anyone who asks this question would be naive.

"What was done was obviously a re-enactment. It is a means of putting together a communication strategy. That's all it is," he explained.

"People see it for what it is. It's not pretending to be anything else, and if the PNP [People's National Party] wants to do something like that, it's open to them," he said.

The video has been viewed more than 90,000 times and Holness says people see the humour in it, but "they also get the seriousness of it".

"Look out for part two of my car breaking down," he said laughing.

JLP Chairman Robert Montague said the experience shows that Holness is "on the ground suffering the same fate as the average Jamaican".

The Jamaican authorities late last month ordered pumps at 17 service stations to be closed in the wake of reports of bad fuel being sold by at least 26 stations across the island.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell has since appointed a private sector-led committee to undertake a comprehensive review of the petroleum trade in Jamaica and make recommendations to protect the integrity of the trade.