2005-01-20 / Caribbean Corner

caribbean roundup

thousands face possible evacuation from flooding

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – Many business places, schools, courts and government offices in Guyana were closed today as a result of flooding caused by three days of torrential rainfall.

Commercial operations and home owners reported considerable stock losses and property damage as a result of the flooding which also cut off some villages outside the capital George-town.

While the rains were heavier than usual it has been reported that the excessive flooding was caused when one of the main canals in Georgetown burst its banks.

But Philip Alsopp retired government Chief Works and Hydraulics Officer told Associated Press he believes negligence on the part of the authorities has contributed to the present situation.

“In my view there are a series of obstacles beginning with the internal drainage in Georgetown, the drains have not been regularly maintained and I think this is crucial to the whole thing because the water is not moving freely through the drains,” he said.

Meanwhile Minister of Public Works, Tony Xavier has announced that emergency work is currently being carried out to clear blocked drainage canals in an effort to drain the city.

Weather forecasters have said the country is experiencing a very unusual weather pattern which could become worse during the week.

The country’s two main agricultural crops sugar and rice are not expected to be adversely affected.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – The interim prime minister’s chief adviser was shot and wounded Sunday morning during a failed carjacking attempt in Haiti’s capital, police said.

Raymond Lafontant was shot once in the stomach in a Port-au-Prince neighborhood when a small group of men trying to steal his car could not get it started, government spokesman Mike Joseph said.

Lafontant was in stable condition at a hospital in the capital, Joseph said. It did not appear Lafontant had been targeted because the gunmen had not killed him, he said.

Lafontant was driving his new sport utility vehicle on his way to his mother’s home when two or three men ordered him out, Joseph said. Lafontant gave them the keys but the attackers could not start the SUV, so they fired three shots at him, he said.

Joseph said he doesn’t know why the vehicle wouldn’t start.

Lafontant, chief of staff in the office of U.S.-backed interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, was alone at the time of the attack, authorities said.

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – China has added Jamaica to the communist country’s list of approved travel destinations for its tourists, Jamaica’s state-run news agency reported.

The designation should help the Ca-ribbean island attract a bigger piece of the fast-growing Chinese tourist market, the Jamaica Information Service quoted Prime Minister P.J. Patterson as saying in a report on its Web site.

Chinese citizens are allowed to travel to at least 28 approved destinations in official tour groups regulated by the state. Chinese citizens can travel to countries not on the approved list, but not formally as tourists.

A formal agreement on the designation could be signed next month during a visit to Jamaica by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong to attend a trade fair, Patterson’s press secretary Sandra Graham said.

China signed a similar agreement with the European Union last year.

The approved status had been a goal of Patterson’s government as it seeks to boost Jamaica’s vital tourism industry following a global slowdown in travel after the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) – Minister of Public Works and Trans-port Gline Clarke has proposed a night work and a shift system, to get the Government’s road works project back on track following persistent heavy rains last week.

The Sunday Sun newspaper reported the Minister as saying that the Government’s works program was three months behind schedule and the situation was further compounded by the recent heavy rains.

Clarke said he would be meeting with officials from the trade union fraternity very shortly to discuss his proposal.

“Obviously the cost will go up because if one is talking about a shift system then workers would have to be paid especially if work is done on a weekend - time-and-a-half and triple time in some instances,” he said.

Projects, which have been affected, include work on Morgan Lewis Bridge, St. Andrew, and New Castle Bridge, St. John, and widening of the corner at Gun Hill, St. George. Clarke said his Ministry was committed to improving the roads and added that it will be embarking on an aggressive program during the year.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, (AP) –

Opposition senator Wade Mark has described the PNM’s victory in the Tobago House of Assembly election as a hollow one.

“Don’t get fooled with a little victory in Tobago,” he warned the Govern-ment bench in the Senate yesterday.

“Don’t get carried away. Tobago eh Trinidad. Let us understand that.

“So, don’t come and behave like a tyrant and dictator as you have been developing over the last couple of years.

“UNC eh DAC. So, this victory that you have had after you have spent $10 million in Tobago...it tells you that they were very nervous and they felt they were going to lose, so they bring out captain to cook.”

Mark issued the warning while query-ing the transfer of some $80 million from the Education Ministry to the THA and the ministries of Finance and Housing at the end of the last fiscal year.

He was speaking during debate on the Venture Capital Amendment Bill.

Mark took issue with Prime Minis-ter Patrick Manning’s decision to go to Tobago to support the PNM’s campaign.

He said Manning had abandoned his official duties.

Mark also joked about Education Minister Hazel Manning’s involvement in the campaign.

“Everybody, even Mrs Manning, all over the place while rain falling, wetting the lady and they campaigning for a Tobago House of Assembly election,” he said.

Mark said less than 35 per cent of Tobagonians voted in the election.

“The vast majority of the people in Tobago rejected the PNM out of hand in the THA elections,” he said.

“This is a minority regime. Twenty-eight percent of the people must be vote for allyuh.”

Responding to the election results, Singh said the PNM’s victory demonstrated that “in any situation where there is disunity among opposing forces, it will favor the incumbent.”

Singh complimented Manning for the manner in which he supported the party’s campaign on the island.

“Manning has broken the paradigm of prime ministers.

“Eric Williams had to go through Arthur NR Robinson and Basil Pitt but Manning hit the ground to create victory for the PNM.

“Even (Basdeo) Panday as prime minister had to go through (Hochoy) and Robinson. But, it worked for the opening up of the politics between T&T.”

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