UWI, Mona, Appoints Sports Academy Head

KINGSTON, Jamaica, The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, has appointed Dr Sharmella Roopchand-Martin as the first head of its academy of sport.

A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Roopchand-Martin has lived and worked in Jamaica for most of her life and has been lecturing in physical therapy since 1998.

Dr Roopchand-Martin joined the UWI as a full-time faculty member at the School of Physical Therapy in 2007, as a lecturer of orthopaedics, neurology, exercise physiology and research methodology. She is a physical therapist, with a masters in biomedical ethics, a masters in rehabilitation Science, as well as a doctorate in physical therapy.

She is an active research with her work being centred mainly on active video gaming applications for sport training and rehabilitation, as well as water-based power training for athletes. These projects have included athletes at national and club levels from different sports. She has also published several papers in these areas in peer-reviewed journals.

One section of the Mona Academy of Sport will focus on developing academic programmes in sport, ranging from short certificate courses to doctoral programmes. Another section will focus on intercollegiate sporting activities at the local and regional levels.

The academy will also focus on the development of UWI student athletes, as well as explore opportunities for increased competition at local and regional levels for their collegiate teams. Additionally it will participate in outreach activities, enabling university athletes to become involved in projects at the community, primary, and high school levels, and develop a sporting ethos reflective of the highest moral and ethical standards.

Serious Crimes Down In St Kitts

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, The proactive and sustained operations to enhance public safety by law enforcement have resulted in decreases in the number of serious crimes committed in St Kitts and Nevis, including homicides, attempted murder, and grievous bodily harm, as well as a corresponding increase in the rate of detection for all crimes in general.

At an August 24 press conference, Commissioner of Police, Ian Queeley, shared the statistics recorded up to August 22, 2017, and compared it to statistics from the same period in 2016.

He said: “The decrease in the category of serious crime is worthy of note, as homicide declined from 23 to 18 or 22 percent; attempted murder from 29 to 18 or 38 percent; shooting at with intent from 17 to 12 or 29 percent; and grievous bodily harm from 90 to 82 or nine percent.

The rate of detection for serious crimes has also improved when compared to the corresponding figures last year, which again was attributed to the increased vigilance of the men and women of the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF). The rate of detection for homicides increased from 17 percent to 38.9 percent; attempted murder up from 27.5 percent to 55.5 percent; and shooting at with intent from 11.7 percent to 41.6 percent.

Queeley further revealed that there have also been declines in crimes such as breakings and larcenies down by 7 percent and 19.1 percent respectively. Malicious damage continued on a three year reducing trend. There were slight increases in robberies and sexual crimes but both were under 10 percent. Drug offences also increased by 37.3 percent. Overall cases of reported crime were up by a marginal 0.6 percent, which some attribute to the police enjoying a higher rate of success.

He referred to the police strategic plan 2011-2019 and the service improvement plan and added that “all of these guiding doctrines are in full execution and bearing fruit.”

T&T Public Servants Facing Wage Freeze

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Workers in Trinidad and Tobago are likely to feel the pinch of the country’s economic crunch even more as economists warn that Government is in no position to meet demands for wage increases.

In fact, several economists warn that in the face of declining revenue, the Keith Rowley administration may be forced to freeze the salaries of public servants.

It’s a suggestion that has already been strongly rejected by union leaders, with President of the Public Service Association Watson Duke warning that any wage freeze could trigger “some kind of action.”

Economist are however urging caution, pointing out that the public sector wage bill amounts to just about TT$1 billion (US$148 million) a month.

Recently, Prime Minister Rowley admitted that finding money to pay public servants every month was a big challenge every month, and Government was now borrowing to foot the bill.

Economist Dr Ralph Henry told local media that the government was facing a “challenging” situation since it was now borrowing to “just pay salaries”.

He noted that with the substantial drop in revenue from the oil and gas sector and a slowdown in exports, the government’s hands are essentially tied.

Union leaders admit that the country is grappling with the serious economic challenges but stress that before any decisions are made, there must first be dialogue to reach a consensus.


Time Running Out For Climate Change Says St Lucia PM

CASTRIES, St Lucia, A Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Prime Minister has reiterated the call for developed countries to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their quest to combat the effects of climate change.

The St Lucian leader, Allen Chastanet, said time is running out for small states such as those in the Caribbean as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions.

“I am going to keep pounding on the table and letting my voice be heard explaining that the SIDS cannot wait,” Chastanet said.

“There is no greater example of that than what took place in Haiti. Did we not know that Haiti was in a hurricane belt? Did we not know that there was clearly a trend of increasing storms? That all we needed was a trough? What took place last year, the world and all of us must bear responsibility for. The Haitian people were left to confront one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes we have seen in a long time with cardboard boxes.”

On October 4 last year, Hurricane Matthew struck southwestern Haiti leaving widespread damage in the impoverished Caribbean nation. Matthew was a late-season Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, having formed in the southeastern Caribbean on September 28.

In addition to loss of life, the economic damage to the nation was truly staggering. The Haitian aid group CARE placed the damage done by Hurricane Matthew to Haiti at 1 billion dollars.

Haiti is of the world’s poorest countries and vulnerable to such natural disasters. The United Nations proclaiming Matthew to be the greatest humanitarian crisis to affect the country since a devastating earthquake six years ago. The country was essentially cut in half as the storm destroyed transport links. After slicing through Haiti and killing more than 800 people, Matthew also pounded Cuba and The Bahamas.

Chastanet, who was speaking at a ceremony for the exchange of notes for Japanese grant aid of EC$35 million to the government of St. Lucia for the reconstruction of two major bridges, said time is of the essence.

“Time is against us. I say all of this to underscore that point and for us not to take for granted the significance of today. It is very easy for us to continue to come to these signings of agreements and almost take it for granted what we are receiving. This project has the opportunity and potential to protect the lives and the assets of many people,” he said.

“In terms of upgrading the country’s already expensive infrastructure, time is against small states like St Lucia in their fight to develop the road network and bridges capable of withstanding weather changes.”

St Lucia was also hit by Matthew as a tropical storm. The island experienced the most severe effects among Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) nations, with damage to homes and businesses accompanied by blocked roads and flooding.