Archive for September 7th, 2012

Cell phone driving fine $150

| 07/09/2012 | 92 Comments

Houston_Distracted_Driving_Accident_Injury_Attorney.jpg(CNS): From Friday 21 September it will be illegal in the Cayman Islands to use a mobile or cell phone while driving without a hands-free unit. Anyone caught doing so can expect to pay $150 fine. The long awaited traffic law regulations have been completed and government officials confirmed it would be effective in two weeks time. The ban, which has been introduced in many western countries, already appears in Clause 78 of the traffic law and makes it illegal to talk, text or bbm in a car that is driving on the road. Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing Director David Dixon said experts have likened cell phone usage while driving to that of careless driving, slowing reactions to traffic hazards by as much as four times.

“Too many people have become too accustomed to checking e-mail or sending a text while behind the wheel, even though it's as dangerous as drinking and driving,” the minister with responsibility for roads,  Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, said as the official announcement about the law was made some ten months after it was first passed.

“We have lost enough of our youth to speeding, and it our hope that this law will be a preventive measure and that over time it will change the attitudes of our citizens,” she added. 

The law provides some exceptions to using a mobile phone while driving, including police officers on duty, a driver making a 911 call in an emergency when it is unsafe to stop, or when the phone is secured to a hands-free unit. Drivers can also pull over from the normal flow of traffic and park to use their phones.

Along with the ban on cell phones, the law puts an end to the unpopular parking control of clamping.

The new traffic law, which takes effect on 21 September, brings with it some 12 new regulations and a revised Road Code that provides a comprehensive guide to the conduct of all road users, including pedestrians, animal riders, motor cyclists and cyclists.  O'Connor-Connolly urged everyone to get a copy of the new Road Code.

"The updated Traffic Law, regulation and new Road Code apply to everyone who uses the road – both drivers and pedestrians. Everyone should familiarise themselves with the new provisions and understand what their rights are," she said,

The law also finally allows electric cars on the roads as a result of a change to the definition of a “motor vehicle” to accommodate the green vehicles.

"This allows, for the first time in these islands, for electric vehicles to be registered, licensed and insured,” the minster added.

Another change in the law allows police officers to issue tickets to people who park in disabled parking spots without the required blue 'Disabled Person Badge'. Under Traffic Ticket Regulations, the traffic fines have also been revised.

“Using a vehicle without registration plates was $25; this is now increased to $100. Failing to obey traffic signal/signs was $25 and will be increased to $200. The new offence of using a mobile telephone while operating a vehicle has been added to the regulations and carries a fine of $150,” Dixon explained.

There is also a change in the regulations to ensure that driving instructors are properly licensed and regulated.  But the law will grandfather in current driving instructors, who will be subjected to testing from to time to time to determine their suitability to instruct students, Dixon added.

Since the enactment of the 1973 Traffic Law, there have been 15 amendments. The Road Code has not been published since 1974 and was long overdue for an update to take into account existing traffic conditions and road use, especially roundabouts, officials said.

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Companies Law stalled amid finance sector concerns

| 07/09/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS Business): One of five critical laws relating to the financial services sector hit a problem this week as it left the Legislative Assembly on its way to the governor’s office for assent. The Companies Amendment Law 2012, which passed through parliament last week, became the focus of attention because of a requirement for all Cayman registered companies and funds to keep full records of financial transactions here as well as where the companies do business. Government issued a short statement on Friday afternoon stating telling the financial services industry and the public that the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2012, was not in effect and government "is aware of industry concerns, and is working to make appropriate changes to address them." Read more and comment on CNS Business

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TCI deports Haitians as humanitarian amnesty ends

| 07/09/2012 | 0 Comments

deportees01.jpg(CNS): The Turks and Caicos Islands government said Thursday that it has lifted its moratorium on deportation to Haiti. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) appealed to governments to suspend temporarily all involuntary returns to Haiti, and to grant interim protection on humanitarian grounds to all those thathad left the country, until the situation there had stabilised and basic services had been restored.  TCI had in response suspended the deportation of illegal migrants already in TCI.

“The lifting of the moratorium on deportation is part of the ministry ofborder control and labour's commitment to enforce the law firmly, fairly and effectively,” said Clara Gardiner, the permanent secretary for border control in a release.

“Through the development of our intelligence capability and establishment of a Joint Protocol with the Police, we are focusing on those threats and individuals who seek to undermine the integrity of our Borders such as Sloop arrivals, facilitators & traffickers, whilst targeting those migrants involved in criminality or causing harm to our communities. We also continue to crack down on illegal working and those employing persons without the proper permits.

“Alongside partners, and in line with the enhanced 'track and trace' capability that the new Coastal Radar facility will provide, we are reviewing instructions and refining guidance contained in the  National Irregular Migrant Contingency Plan, to further improve our Island response capability," the minister added.

Government officials said UK ministers have been consulted about the decision, and support it, on the understanding that all deportations from the Territory are subject to due process of the law.

Persons can only be removed from the Turks and Caicos only by lawful deportation under the Immigration Ordinance. This will either be on the basis of having been convicted in a court of law of a criminal offence, and recommended for deportation by the court, or by administrative deportation, in which case they will be given due notice of the intention to deport them.

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Containers, volunteers & training occupies Red Cross

| 07/09/2012 | 0 Comments

6067557524_ca57ae3882_b (300x300).jpgCIRC): Still taking its cues from the lessons learned from the passing of Hurricane Ivan eight years ago, preparedness is still the word of the day at the Cayman Islands Red Cross (CIRC), where volunteers and staff continue to ensure that our community is ready and able to respond in the event any disaster strikes our Islands. Since its inception, the container project has been an integral part of the CIRC’s preparedness strategy. Located at key locations in Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands, these containers are stocked with emergency supplies which will allow communities to access necessary items, such as tarps and hygiene kits, in the event that they are isolated due to a major disaster.

“We’ve seen how a major hurricane, and any other such disaster in fact, can essentially split the Island in multiple pieces by limiting or outright restricting access to certain districts,” explains Disaster Manager Danielle Coleman. “These containers allow communities to be self-sufficient for those vital hours and perhaps even days until the roads can be cleared up and access to other supplies re-established.”

CIRC volunteers and a number of corporate entities have worked side by side throughout the summer months to ensure that these containers are properly maintained and stocked so that they are in the best possible shape prior to any emergency.

Volunteers from PricewaterhouseCoopers played an important role in this maintenance activity. "This was a great opportunity to get an understanding of what the Red Cross does in Cayman. The volunteers enjoyed helping out at head office and the Red Cross container in Bodden Town. It was a great way to spend the morning and I look forward to volunteering at the Red Cross again!" stated Kerryn Nurick, Senior Associate of PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

"The Red Cross was great in giving us a brief overview of what they do, and the PwC staff were more than happy to lend a helping hand in getting the Red Cross more prepared to implement their activities. It was a pleasure volunteering at the Red Cross, as they are well organised and the utmost professionalism was sighted," added Senior Associate, Stephanie Weder.

Volunteers from Diamonds International were also on hand to assist the CIRC with preparedness activities. General Manager Mr. On Azriel stated, “Diamonds International is proud to be supporting the Cayman Islands Red Cross, as we truly feel that the support this organization offers to our community is invaluable. We are happy to be able to help out in any way possible for such a worthy cause.”

CIRC Volunteers have also been busy undergoing numerous trainings and development activities offered by the Red Cross University. These activities range from monthly trainings that cover topics from communication to warehousing to intensive advanced workshops. The latest of these was a three day “Leadership” workshop where they assisted in the development of an updated Emergency Response Manual for the organisation, as well as in establishing the core team which will be responsible for spearheading some key components of the department (such as communications, warehouse, generation.)

“The greatest resource which the Red Cross Movement has is its people,” stated Ms. Coleman. “Therefore it is only logical that we will continue to develop their skills and provide them opportunities to utilise those skills. Volunteers who reach such a high level of training are also given tremendous responsibility for ensuring that they deliver on what is expected of them. We are very fortunate to have such a great team of people who take this role very seriously,” she added.

Even with all the work being done internally, CIRC volunteers and staff have also been actively involved in building community capacity through numerous training initiatives. The CIRC, working in collaboration with HMCI, has trained Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in a number of topics including Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) which will help them in determining the risks and resources of their communities, as well as Psycho-Social Support and Stress Management, First Aid/CPR, and Shelter Management.

Furthermore, CIRC staff have also delivered trainings to private companies ranging from the overview training “Disaster 101” to more tailored workshops designed to meet a company’s specific needs. “Even though the Red Cross is the largest voluntary based organisation in Cayman, our volunteers still can’t be everywhere at all times. Therefore it is important that we empower communities- either through initiatives like CERTs orvia their workplace- so that they are more resilient and better equipped to provide an immediate response internally in the event of a disaster,” explains Ms. Coleman.

While the Cayman Islands have been spared from any storm related headaches so far this season, both Tropical Storm Ernesto and Hurricane Isaac served as useful training exercises for the CIRC. Among many activities that were spurred on by the threat of these storms, containers were chained down, the shelter was cleaned and restocked, first aid kits were checked and updated, shelter managers reported for duty and the vehicles were fully prepared.

“The difficulty when it comes to disaster preparedness- both for the individual and for different organisations- is to keep people engaged when there are lulls, and there are many many lulls” explains DM Communications Team Member, Roger Brown. “As an organisation that responds on a national level the Red Cross has to strike that fine balance where we, the volunteers, are motivated during the lulls but not overly-exhausted when there is a chance we may need to respond.”

Even with the threat of Ernesto, the DM Communications team managed to finalise the antennae project – with the help of numerous professionals who volunteered their time and the support of CUC-which will significantly improve the organisation’s communications capabilities.

“This is a project that began many years ago, and as someone who was involved with it from day one it is a major accomplishment for the DM Communications Team,” explains Mr. Brown. “This is a good example of the right type of motivation that brings disaster preparedness to life for us. It is no longer about a theory or a plan that lives only on paper. Here is something tangible that will bring tangible benefits. We may not need to use for a while, but we know that it’s there and ready when it is needed and it’s a great feeling to know that you’ve had a role to play in such an accomplishment,” he adds.

The Red Cross reminds the public to ensure that their family plans and kits are in order for the remainder of the season. For assistance with your individual or corporate plans, how to put together a kit, or to get involved, contact the CIRC on 949-6785 ext. 22, dm@redcross.org.ky or visit www.redcross.org.ky.

Press release from the Red Cross
 

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Turtles on track for record local nesting season

| 07/09/2012 | 19 Comments

390239_10150432852025846_1186151072_n (253x300).jpg(CNS): This year is proving to be one of the highest years on record for turtle nests, experts from the Department of Environment have revealed. So far, DoE staff and trained volunteers have found and marked over 200 turtle nests in Grand Cayman. Since 1998, the DoE has conducted systematic surveys along the beaches to identify signs of nesting by sea turtles. The data collected is used to assess the quantity, frequency and distribution of nesting and to aid conservation efforts. Together the DoE staff and volunteers cover some 800 miles of beach by the end of the May-November turtle nesting season.

Janice Blumenthal, a research officer with the department, said that the number of nests found so far puts 2012 on track to be one of the highest years on record.

“Our monitoring method has not changed since the programme began in 1998, so we are confident this represents a true increase,” she said. “Due tothe increase, many Caymanians and residents have been able to see nesting turtles for the first time and many visitors have told us that they will plan their next vacation to the Cayman Islands during the nesting season or in order to see nests hatch.

“We would like to thank hotel and condo managers, beach front property owners, and CUC for turning off lights on the beach to protect these nests. Together, we have already protected over 5,500 hatchlings, and the work of protecting the years’ hatchlings is just beginning,” she added.

While this is an encouraging increase in nesting numbers, turtles still face numerous threats, including poaching and light pollution. Contributions from a campaign run by a beer company will be used to address the lighting problem.

“We are excited about using some of the funds from Miller Lite to implement turtle ‘friendly lighting’ solutions in key areas,” Blumenthal added. “The DoE is committed to finding lighting solutions that work for turtles and people, and there is great potential to improve nesting habitat in this way.”

She explained that, with a limited budget at the DOE, companies such as Miller Lite can help with the project to protect turtle nesting populations.

“We are very grateful for all of the fundraising that Miller Lite has done this year to raise money for essential equipment for turtle conservation,” she added after receiving a cheque for $4,500 from the beer company, which was raised through fundraising events including island-wide beach clean-ups and donations from Miller Lite purchases.

So far the money has already been used to purchase supplies such as PVC pipe for marking nests and shades for lights. These items form part of a long-term plan to improve the nesting habitat for turtles in the Cayman Islands.

The public is encouraged to call the DoE Turtle Hotline 938-NEST (938-6378) if they see turtle nests, nesting turtles, or hatchlings or email DoE@gov.ky for more information.

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