Sun | Sep 24, 2017

‘Don’t kill creativity’

Published:Sunday | July 12, 2015 | 7:00 AMRyon Jones
One of the many motorised 'handcarts' being used across the island.

At least one member of the Scientific Research Council (SRC) believes that persons who have attached motors to handcarts to get them to move faster and easier should be recognised for their creativity.

"We don't want to kill their creativity," said team leader for Caribbean Energy Information Systems at the SRC, Curtis Deaner. "The fact that they have been creative enough to move their handcarts from using kinetic energy to using electric energy (is creative)," added Deaner.

Automotive skills instructor at the Jamaican-German Automotive School (JGAS), Frantois Johnson, agreed as he argued that the resourcefulness of the motorised handcart builders must be harnessed.

"We should encourage them, but we need to develop the correct medium or institution so these people can develop," said Johnson.

"We would need an organisation that develops a standard that says this is how the break must be, this is the size engine that should go into the handcart; so it can be safe for the persons to operate," added Johnson.

With some persons questioning the safety of these motorised handcarts and the possible pitfalls if they are involved in a collision, Johnson argued that they qualify as motor vehicles, so something has to be put in place regarding their licensing and insurance.

"By definition, once a unit is not powered by manual force, it is classified as a motor vehicle, so ingenuity is one thing, but there is safety" said Johnson.

"These people are very creative, but you have to develop a standard to ensure that these things are safe and consistent. Because when it comes to vehicles, you are talking about operation, you are talking about the servicing and availability of parts."

ILLEGAL AND UNSAFE

But director of the Island Traffic Authority, Ludlow Powell, has rubbished any idea of these motorised handcarts being legitimate motor vehicles and has joined the police and the Road Safety Unit in the Ministry of Transport in branding them illegal and unsafe.

"There is nothing in the Road Traffic Act that recognises a handcart that puts on a motor as a motor vehicle. There are laws to govern every single thing in this country to include the roads," said Powell.

"For a motor vehicle to be on the road, it must be licensed, it must be registered and it must have a certificate of fitness. Tell the handcart persons to bring their handcarts to the depot to be tested then. There is no way it can pass a fitness test; there are so many things wrong with it, and it is a source of danger to be on the road network."

While staying clear of the debate over the legality or safety of motorised handcarts, Deaner is advising persons who have inventions or ideas to utilise the avenues that have been setup to facilitate these.

"There are mediums through which persons with innovative ideas can put forward their innovations and have a means of getting them to the next stage," said Deaner.

"And that is through the National Innovations Awards, which is spearheaded by the Minister of Science and Technology, and the SRC is involved in the planning and holding of that competition.

"The other one is the Caribbean Climate Innovations Centre, which is a medium through which persons with innovations or innovative ideas can submit a proposal, and that proposal is evaluated, and there are opportunities for assistance to be provided to these persons."

Deaner said persons can also visit the University of Technology and the University of West Indies engineering departments to get assistance with innovations that need to be developed.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com