Happy 2020 to all, and let us resolve to be a part of the changes that are required by confronting them every day. If we can be relentless and show numbers, then those empowered to make changes will make them and progress will happen. Let me start with my own agenda, observations, and proposals as follows:

  1. Flow service in the Woodford and Maryland Districts: For over six months I have been reporting the inadequate cellular service in this area where thousands of people live and work (some by Internet for overseas companies). My personal experience was a sudden medical emergency in October and the inability to call an ambulance on my cellphone or landline. Fortunately I was driven to UHWI where I was admitted for 12 days. The outcome could have been very serious.

To be precise, even after successfully making a call and trying to make another, the system regularly indicates “not listed on the network”. I have reported this on my behalf and on behalf of the thousands of people affected. I am not aware that this is happening with Digicel at this time, and I have taken the time to bring this to the attention of the CEO of Flow, however this situation was continuing all through the holiday season. I have already lodged a full complaint at the Consumer Affairs Commission and hope others will do the same.

  • Scotiabank ATM: Prior to and during the holiday season the availability of cash and machine availability have been extremely poor. This is easily noticeable at the UWI that has three such machines on the main campus and one at the hospital. These machines are supposed to be serviced by a major armoured company, but the responsibility seems to be managed from the Dominican Republic, and it is not working well. It may cut costs but the service has deteriorated and everyone is saying “well, we have no control over it”, and Jamaica, the former jewel in Scotia’s operation, is again a colonial servant.

Prior to, and during the examination period, students were extremely frustrated and when some machines were being updated the process took approximately four days (I guess nobody from the DR was on site), and the usual needs for small amounts of cash to purchase from places that do not take debit cards left the students with “hungry belly late night studying”. I hope that they will complain formally.

  • Motor vehicle madness continued through the season, and one close to me saw a young friend become a victim when a motorist decided to create a third lane and hit down my friend who still remains in hospital. I intend to support the call of the Minister of Transport to utilize cellphones to record the recklessness on the roads. I will be encouraging this activity at the gate of the UHWI where emergency vehicles are regularly impeded by legal and illegal taxis. I am urging all owners of external surveillance cameras to allow footage to be available to the relevant authorities as it will serve to tackle the road abuse, and the crime activities.

I am requesting that this be totally anonymous and controlled in a very strict environment. The more people who do this, the safer we will all be. This is a valid way of peaceful protest in support of a gentler and safer society.

  • Service stations and air pumps: The inability of access to functioning tyre pressure pumps forces many motorists to drive with incorrect inflation in different tyres on the same vehicle. This is dangerous and will contribute to accidents and more injuries and fatalities. Gas stations that do not provide this service should be required to state this prominently on their display signs. I tested six stations and found them wanting, including some of the big names of some chains. We need to complain to the owners/operators and follow up with the CAC. I have already lodged my formal complaint.

So here ends my promised identification of problems with easy solutions that can make 2020 a better year as we look towards a gentler and richer society by 2030. There will be more to come in future installments.

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