Sun | Sep 20, 2020

NEWS BRIEFS

Published:Monday | August 10, 2020 | 12:18 AM

Labourites vexed at Holness no-show in Cold Spring

Disgruntled residents in Cold Spring, Hanover Eastern, hung their heads in dismay on Saturday afternoon and lashed out at Prime Minister Andrew Holness for failing to turn up for the official opening of their newly paved $33-million roadway.

Anxious Jamaica Labour Party supporters were seen gathering at the intersection to the Pondside and Cold Spring main road as early as 2 p.m. for the official opening of the 2.4-kilometre throughfare stretching from Cold Spring to Thompson Hill.

An executive member of the Cold Spring committee told The Gleaner that the prime minister, who was touring Hanover, was expected to arrive in their community at approximately 3:30 p.m., where he was to cut the ribbon declaring the roadway open.

“Mi caa believe seh ‘Brogad’ do this to we, an’ fi know seh Cold Spring a Labourite stronghold,” the JLP community organiser said, referring to the street slang for the prime minister.

“All a we frighten when dem call we about 7 o’clock an a tell we seh dem pass through Hopewell and deh pon dem way to Cacoon.”

The Cold Spring to Thompson Hill road project commenced in September 2019 following a massive demonstration over the dilapidated stretch and water shortages.

The project was scheduled to be completed in May 2020 but was set back to June because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Martha Brae rafting resumes August 12

Rafting on the Martha Brae in Trelawny, which was prohibited in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled to resume on Wednesday, August 12.

It is unclear, however, if Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ warning about tougher coronavirus control measures might trigger the reimposition of an industry lockdown.

Florence Campbell, administrative assistant at River Rafting, said that several setbacks over compensation had delayed the restart of rafting by two weeks.

“The 80 raftsmen had requested a subsidy of $14,000 to rebuild rafts. River Rafting offered $10,000, which was refused,” Campbell told The Gleaner.

“That figure was up to $12,000, and this was accepted.”

Edgar Harrison, a raftsman with more than 30 years experience at the company, which started in 1970, is expressing disappointment about how raftsmen have been treated in relation to the Government’s COVID relief grants for workers in the tourism industry.

“All of us were promised, but not one of us has received anything. Everything which was required of us has been given - but not even one dollar,” said Harrison.

Campbell lamented the non-delivery of relief grants as “terrible” and “shameful”.

“I have been given the runaround by all who should give me information. River Rafting Authority has directed me to the Tourism Product Development Company,” said the administrative assistant.

“They have, in turn, directed me to the Ministry of Finance. There is an impenetrable wall around that ministry.”

COVID-19 shutters two Customs offices

A confirmed case of COVID-19 has triggered the shutdown of the Newport East and King Street offices of Jamaica Customs on Monday.

Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts Walker said that the offices are undergoing a comprehensive sanitising exercise and that the closure is a precautionary measure for both staff and customers.

Public health measures geared at preventing and combating COVID-19 will continue to be implemented, Ricketts Walker said in a press statement on Sunday afternoon..

The Newport East and King Street offices will reopen for regular business on Tuesday.

Online services will be available on Monday, and staff will continue to liaise with customers under the company’s teleworking regime.

BCIC premiums shoot past $11b

BCIC surpassed $11 billion in gross written premium (GWP) to become the leading general insurance company of 2019, according to statistics from the Insurance Association of Jamaica (IAJ).

The figure represents a 28 per cent increase in GWP over 2018 for the company, which has operations in Jamaica, Barbados, and Turks & Caicos. Not only did the GWP performance lead the market, but so, too, did the company’s profitability, with an impressive 165 per cent growth over 2018.

Peter Levy, managing director of BCIC, said that the prioritisation of customer value and an aggressive digital strategy led to customers being able to quote, buy, pay and claim online.

In the midst of the government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, BCIC returned more than $50 million in premiums to private car and taxi policyholders in Jamaica and Barbados.

“It didn’t seem right to generate windfall margins from an event that has had a negative impact on so many of our policyholders. We felt we had to make those refunds,” said Levy, a former head of the IAJ.