THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
NEW NORTH CLARENDON BRIDGE TO TRANSFORM LIVES—01/17/16
Residents in North Clarendon can look forward to a $700 million project that will build a new bridge in the community. The two-lane reinforced concrete bridge will be located at Kupuis, Pennants, and be 67 meters long, spanning the Rio Minho, one of the island’s longest rivers. The new bridge will replace a 100-year-old single-lane steel bridge that suffers from corrosion and presents potential danger due to the heavy trucks that use it. The bridge will be finished in 15 months. It will be built by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd. (CHEC) and is part of a larger infrastructure development plan funded via a loan from China Ex-Im Bank and Jamaica’s government. The new bridge will facilitate transportation between May Pen and Discovery Bay.
HEALTH MINISTER ADVISES POSTPONEMENT OF PREGNANCY DUE TO ZIKA VIRUS—01/18/16
Jamaica’s Minister of Health Horace Dalley has advised women to delay planned pregnancies by six to 12 months in response to the spread of the Zika virus. The mosquito-borne illness has not yet been recorded on the island, but it is spreading throughout the Americans and may have caused more than 3,500 cases of brain damage among infants born in Brazil to date. Dalley believes it is only a matter of time before Zika, which is similar to dengue, is found in Jamaica. The disease has already been confirmed in Haiti. Dalley also urged pregnant women to take special care to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a rare condition that causes infants to be born with smaller-than-normal heads and improperly developed brains.
JAMAICANS TO SEE RISE IN MINIMUM WAGE—01/20/16
The government of Jamaica will raise the nation’s minimum wage by 10.7 percent, beginning on March 1, 2016 if Parliament approves a bill presented by Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Labor and Social Security. The bill would increase the hourly minimum wage from J$140 to J$155 ($1.16 to $1.29). The government is considering the experiences of Jamaicans who are living at the lower edge of society, said Ferguson. The bill was drafted following recognition of several factors in the island’s economy, including its current condition, high utility rates and transportation costs, the government’s economic recovery program, and the Memorandum of Understanding between trade unions and the government.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
BISEXUAL JAMAICAN IN UK GIVEN RIGHT TO STAY AFTER FIGHTING DEPORTATION—01/19/16
Jamaican Orashia Edwards, 33, has been given the right to remain in the United Kingdom after battling deportation for some three-and-a-half years. Edwards fought his deportation back to Jamaica on the grounds that he would face sexual discrimination on the island. He had been detained by immigration authorities several times, and his claims for asylum on the grounds of his sexuality were rejected as authorities state he was really heterosexual and was only “experimenting” with being gay. While the UK government had been moving ahead with his deportation, he finally won the right to stay in the country after attaining a string of wins in court.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
HOSPITALITY SECTOR IN U.S. WANTS 3,000 JAMAICAN WORKERS—01/17/16
Jamaica’s Minister of Labor and Social Security Dr. Fenton Ferguson noted indications that the United States hospitality industry will hire some 3,000 workers from the island in 2016 as a number of new employers enter the marketplace. Ferguson played host to five recruiters from the U.S. in Montego Bay. Some of these recruiters already had relationships with Jamaica and were ready to hire over 260 seasonal hospitality workers for jobs in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Michigan. The strong recruiting drive shows a rebounding hospitality market, which suffered a downturn in 2008 but that has been steadily climbing since 2010. In 2015, there was an increase in hires of 56 percent over 2014.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
PETER TOSH TO BE HONORED WITH MUSEUM IN KINGSTON—01/20/16
Global music legend and Jamaican Peter Tosh will be recognized with a museum honoring his life and work. Tosh was a founding member of the Wailers. The museum, which will be located in the Pulse Center in Kingston, represents a collaborative effort between the Peter Tosh Estate and Pulse Investments. Once the museum is opened, The Pulse Center will be renamed Peter Tosh Square as well. The announcement came upon the 40th anniversary of the release of his classic single “Legalize It.” When open, the museum will provide the opportunity for reggae lovers to see Tosh’s M16 guitar, his unicycle, and other artifacts and memorabilia of his life. The museum will also feature audio and video recordings of Tosh in performance.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM GETS NEW SLEIGH FROM JAPAN—01/18/16
Japanese donors have provided Jamaica’s 2018 Olympic bobsled team with a new bobsleigh to help the team get a spot in the international competition. When their home country’s federation rejected the Japan-made bobsleigh – their team uses sleds made in Germany – a group of small factories in Tokyo offered the “Shitamachi Bobsleigh” to Jamaica. Chris Stokes, president of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Federation, was confident about Jamaican athletes winning in the 2018 Olympics with the Japanese sled. The sled represents the pooled skill and effort of some 100 factories in Japan, and these companies are currently working with Jamaica’s team to fine-tune the equipment in time for the Olympic qualifying campaign.