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Utility, Telecoms Companies Prepared for Peak of Atlantic Hurricane Season

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#Kingston, Jamaica, September 27, 2022 – As activity in the tropical Atlantic intensifies, the island’s major utility companies have indicated their preparedness for severe weather conditions.

Hon. Desmond McKenzie

Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Senior Manager, George Kates, said that the company has invested heavily in its disaster-preparedness plans, which were continually developed using many years of lessons.  He said that critical staff and third-party contractors are mobilised and emergency operation centres throughout the island are ready to be activated, when needed.

Additionally, he indicated that in disaster, the JPS maintains contact with the security forces and the National Works Agency (NWA), “because we can recover as fast as they allow us because they have to be ahead of us to clear roads and make way for our team to move”.

“I can comfortably say that the JPS is in an advanced stage of readiness. We are ready to respond to any eventualities,” Mr. Kates assured.

He was addressing a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

During the meeting, which was convened by Portfolio Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, key private and public-sector entities outlined their state-of-readiness for Tropical Depression Nine, which strengthened into Tropical Storm Ian.

While the country was spared the worst effects of the system, it has since developed into a major hurricane and is expected to impact Cuba and Florida.

National Water Commission (NWC) Chairman, Mark Barnett, in noting the entity’s readiness, said that measures have been put in place to prepare for adverse weather conditions.  He noted that key townships across the island have been equipped with standby generators and that all NWC facilities in deep rural or urban areas will continue to operate “as long as it is safe to do so”.

He pointed out, however, that where the weather becomes severe, some facilities may experience disruptions or may be forced to shut down, especially those that rely heavily on reasonable quality water flow from rivers.

“We are making strides to ensure that we have the necessary infrastructure and necessary capacity in place for responsiveness, knowing very well that we are a [small] island state and we are subject to these events,” Mr. Barnett said.

“All in all, we feel pretty comfortable in terms of our preparedness,” he noted.

As it relates to telecommunications, the island’s two main providers also told the committee meeting that they are ready to face a disaster if one strikes.

FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlined that the company has put 12 disaster plans in place, which allows for response to situations in a timely manner.  She said that using lessons from the past, FLOW has actively trained its coordinators to respond to certain protocols and has identified key personnel in each parish, with the regional crisis management team also on standby if the local team requires assistance.

“We have tested our satellite phones that we have in stock and we’re also happy to say that we are supporting the national disaster programme. We have contributed to vests, we have sourced signs, and we [have helped to] ensure that shelter management programmes are up and running,” Mrs. Brown Plunkett noted.

Some of the challenges experienced by the company that may affect its disaster response include the theft of infrastructure, which includes batteries and copper wires, and damage outside the plant network caused by motor-vehicle accidents.

To mitigate these, the company has activated monitoring and tracking on its devices, sensitised communities to monitor any irregularities, and has undertaken routine assessments. There’s also an environmental management programme in place to manage hazardous waste, said Mrs. Brown Plunkett.  Furthermore, the company’s corporate communications team actively monitors and sends out alerts to the public, in the event of a weather system.

Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, for his part, told the committee meeting that the company had activated its emergency management team to ensure full internal coordination.

“That includes our technical team that ensures that our sites are ready, that our facilities are topped up with fuel, that we have double-checked batteries to ensure complete reliance, that we have coordinated with our partners to make sure that they, too, are ready, that we establish lines of communication around the emergency messages,” Mr. Parkinson said.

He noted that the company had assured its business customers of the lines of communication and the strategies it will be undertaking, to maintain business continuity.

Additionally, the company had activated its social media pages to be used as a ‘community hub’ for information and to convey updates from the Government.

“As we do, we are supporting the overall government of Jamaica’s command and control communication efforts, and those efforts are going to be critical to getting Jamaica back on its feet again [in the event of severe weather],” he said.

The Atlantic Hurricane season runs annually from June 1 to November 30. Mid-August to about mid-October is considered to be the peak of the season when, statistically, the tropical Atlantic becomes the most active, and experiences the most dangerous storms.

 

Contact: Mickella Anderson

Release: JIS

Photo Captions:

Donald De La Haye photos

 

1st insert: Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry’s office in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

2nd insert: National Water Commission (NWC), Chairman, Mark Barnett, addresses a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston on Friday (September 23).

3rd insert: FLOW’s Senior Compliance Manager, Keniesha Brown Plunkett, outlines the company’s disaster preparation plans during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council on Friday (September 23) at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in Kingston.

4th insert: Digicel’s Head of Public Relations, Elon Parkinson, discusses the company’s disaster preparation strategies during a special committee meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s Hagley Park Road headquarters on Friday (September 23).

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Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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