Monday, 4 May 2015

Could Tonfang's Possible Jamaican Entry Spur The Development Of The Assembly Industry?

In my blog post entitled  JUTC Testing  Chinese Made Bus In The Hills Of St Andrew; Is Automotive Assembly On The Horizon?, I spoke about the possibility of having Chinese automotive assembly lines in Jamaica.

However, the assembly of consumer electronics and electrical equipment seem probable. This, as Tsinghua Tongfang Company, is seeking to raise US $60 million on the Jamaica stock exchange (JSE) to aid with the build out of the assembly plant. Tongfang envisage, all things being equal, that they'll have their Jamaican plant up and running by September of this year.

Electronics assembly line in China. Source of image: TechCrunch

The aforementioned Jamaican assembly plant would operate under the moniker, Tongfang Global (Ja) company limited, with the aim of earning US $300 million in exports. Tongfang evinced that the importation of various components would be necessary, with the aim of assembling televisions and kitchen appliances under the Seiki brand.

Tsinghua Tongfang Company

Tongfang was founded in 1997, it focuses on the manufacturing of consumer electronics, information appliances, energy equipment, etc. Tongfang's Seiki branded products are relatively popular, especially their digital televisions.

Information sourced from Tongfang's website, suggests they able to produce Televisions ranging from 19"-80", with average of 10 million units being produced. The units are available in approximately 20 countries. Tongfang is seeking to export televisions to the US, Europe and south America, when/if their Jamaican assembly plant comes to fruition.

Tongfang's Possible Entry Has The Potential To Stimulate Jamaica's Nascent Assembly Industry

Jamaica once had a vibrant garment assembly industry, however, due high labour and energy costs, most of these companies relocated to Asia. The garment industry predominated much of Jamaica's assembly industry between the 80s and early 90s.

However, in recent times, goods assembly has languishing, except for Von's motor and company's motorcycle production. Von's assemblies motorcycles under a joint venture between Loncin group out of China, operations began in 2004. An investment by Tongfang would provide the fillip to boost the assembly and overall manufacturing industry.

Using available data on financial times' website, Tongfang has total assets in excess of US $7 billion, suggesting that they're more than capable of implementing this venture. Additionally, Tongfang supplies major retailers in the US; notably, Target and Walmart.

Tongfang entry into Jamaica is not yet certain, as Tongfang is seeking to raise US $60 million on the JSE, in addition to the demand of government concession/s. Will the government provide the concession/s being sought? Time shall tell all.

Thanks for stopping by!


About Tongfang Global, Tongfang Global.

Von's Starts Bike Production, Jamaica Gleaner.

Tsinghua Tongfang Global Company LTD, Financial Times.

Tongfang seeks location for Jamaican assembly plant -- wants to raise US 60 million on JSE, Jamaica Observer.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Divestment Of The Kingston Container Terminal

Government of Jamaica's push to divest the port of Kingston (Kingston container terminal) by way of concession is now complete. In a deal worth US $510 million, France-based CMA CGM shall operate the KCT for 30 years.

Kingston container terminal. Source of image: Timeforfamily

The divestment process was not all smooth sailing, initially, three bidders expressed interest in the port; PSA international out of Singapore, DP world out of the United Arab Emirates and CMA CGM out of France. However, DP world and PSA international pulled out, citing concerns regarding a possible rival container port to be built at the Goat Islands in St Catherine. This meant that CMA CGM was the lone bidder, and eventually got the go-ahead to operate the KCT on April 7, 2015.


CMA CGM was founded in Marseille, France in 1978. Internationally, CMA CGM is rated as the world's third largest shipping company, MSC and Maersk are ranked second and first respectively.

CMA CGM has in excess of 440 ships in operations, serving 400 of 521 global container ports. Additionally, CMA CGM handles 12.1 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), employing approximately 20 000 individuals. Furthermore, latest revenue data are relatively impressive; US $16.7 billion at the end of 2014. In June 2013, China merchants holding international (CMHI) acquired a 49 percent stake in the company. The figures and the ownership structure, suggests that CMA CGM has the financial capability and know how to operate the port of Kingston.

Kingston Container Terminal (KCT)

Located in the world's 7th largest natural harbour, KCT commenced operations in 1975 at port Bustamante. KCT has grown markedly in size over the years. It has a rated capacity of 2.8 million TEUs, making KCT among the largest regional port, and the largest container port in the Caribbean.

Under the concession agreement, It's envisaged that annual capacity of KCT shall increase to 3.6 million TEUs. Additionally, KCT shall become CMA CGM's regional hub, and foresees the aforementioned KCT becoming a top five port in the region.

To achieve their dreams, CMA CGM seeks to increase the draught at the terminal to 15.5m prior to the opening of the new locks at the expanded Panama canal. The Panama canal shall allow the passage of post-panamax ships to transit the canal, KCT and Caribbean ports are positioning themselves to become major beneficiaries of the expanded Panama canal.


Major ports, Port Authority of Jamaica.

General overview, KCT services LTD.

The CMA CGM Group obtains the Kingston Containers Terminal concession and makes Jamaica its hub in the Caribbean, CMA CGM.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

President Obama's Visit Bode Well For Energy Security In Jamaica

Following significant beautification and road repairs across the city of Kingston to welcome president Obama on April 8, 2015, It is safe to say the visit went remarkably well. On his visit to Jamaica, president Obama had bilateral talks with the prime minister of Jamaica, the honorable Portia Simpson Miller.

President during a recent visit to the Bob Marley museum in Kingston, Jamaica. Source of image:

In addition, the president met with various Caribbean heads; discussions focused on security, trade and energy. Not to forget, president Obama wow the crowd at a university of the West Indies (UWI).

On January 18, 2015, I wrote an article entitled Could The US Help To Solve Jamaica's Energy Woes?, it spoke to possible benefits of the ongoing shale boom in the US. This, in turn, may help to diversify Jamaica's energy mix, thereby reducing the rate of electricity.

This is a necessary step, as Jamaica seeks to replace up to 300 megawatts of antiquated power plants. These plants have significantly burdened Jamaicans with electricity rates hovering in the region of 40 US cents/kWhr four times the figure in the US, and up to eight times the figure in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Efforts to secure lower energy costs have long eluded Jamaica; from a failed push to secure liquefied natural gas out of Trinidad and Tobago, to the EWI debacle. Likely spurring the creation of the electricity sector enterprise team (ESET), the team includes public and private sector individuals, with the aim of securing up to 360 megawatts of new capacity. 

It is important to note that commitment was given by two entities to construct 330 megawatts of the aforementioned 360 megawatts of new capacity; Jamaica public service (JPS) has been given the go-ahead to construct a natural gas powered 190 megawatts plant in St Catherine, and 140 megawatts by Aluminum partners of Jamaica (ALPART) in south east St Elizabeth. It's envisioned that both plants should be completed by 2017 or 2018.

A statement of intent was signed on the 8th of April with the US (same time as the presidential visit), the statement of intent is intended to facilitate energy cooperation between the US and Jamaica. The statement of intent can be seen as an overture to something of greater significance. If all goes well, Jamaica should eventually source the long elusive LNG, a commodity (natural gas) that US has in abundance. Plus, the US is said to have the cheapest available natural gas. However, petroleum exports out of north America is restricted by the US, but energy experts foresee a lifting of the restriction  by the time aforementioned power plants are completed.

It will be interesting to see what pans out.


ESET approves 330 megawatts of additional power for Jamaica. RJR News

Jamaica, US sign energy cooperation agreement. Jamaica Observer.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

ISSA Boys And Girls Championship; Is It Time To Increase The Seating Capacity Of The National Stadium?

The annually sought after inter-secondary school sports association (ISSA) boys and girls championship has once again delivered scintillating performances, suggesting that Jamaica has a bright track and field future. Many Jamaican youths see track and field as the way out of poverty; where young individuals are provided a medium to access higher education by way of full scholarships, and or pursuing a career as a professional track and field athlete.

National Stadium; Independence Park. Source of image: Trackandfieldja

Edwin Allen and Calabar were the respective girls and boys champions, beating longtime rivals Holmwood Technical and Kingston College. The ISSA boys and girls championship started on Tuesday, March 24th of the past week, and culminated on Saturday, March 28th (yesterday).

This year's championship marked the 105th anniversary of the event. Boys and girls "champs" is also rated as the greatest age group championship of Its kind globally; many opine that champs is similar to a mini-olympics, Jamaicans can be proud be proud of the boys and girls championship.

Is It Time To Increase The Seating Capacity Of The National Stadium?

Jamaica's Premier sports complex; Independence Park, encompasses a swimming pool, arena, national stadium, etc. The national stadium is home to Boys And Girls Championship, as well as Fifa friendlies and qualifiers. The Seating capacity of the national stadium is somewhat uncertain, however, the stadium seats between 30, 000 and 35, 000 individuals.

Never mind Its capacity, demand for tickets significantly outweigh what's available on the final day of champs. Plus, the stadium is sold out annually on the final day of champs. Incidentally, a week before champs, grandstand tickets were sold out virtually instantaneously. The grandstand seats approximately 5000 individuals, with 2500 seats available to the public.

In this regards, cries have grown louder to build a new stadium or expand the existing facility. However, building a new stadium is out of the question for the time being; a new stadium could easily cost in excess US$ 300 million. Expanding the seating capacity is likely to be more feasible. Though, it is posited that champs occurs once a year, and football games seldom have capacity crowds. However, the stadium was inaugurated in 1962, making the stadium 53 years old.

I would suggest adding 5000 to 10, 000 seats in the medium to long term. In the short term, we should consider expanding the grandstand, helping to reduce shortage of the aforementioned tickets.

Thanks for stopping!


World Stadiums, Jamaica.

We are ready, says Forbes, Jamaica Star.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Riverton City Dump Is On Fire...Once More

A perennial problem has once again raised Its ugly head; the Riverton city dump is on fire for the umpteenth time. Additionally, approximately half of the 120 acres property is said be on fire. This was conveyed by Jennifer Edwards, executive director of the national solid waste management authority (NSWA) in a 3:30 P.M. press briefing on Friday. Furthermore, Jennifer Edwards surmise this is the worst Riverton city fire.

Hell-like inferno at the Riverton city dump. Source of image: loopJamaica

The fire at the dump has been raging since Wednesday, March 11th; and a definitive timeline hasn't been given to extinguish the fire, though it is anticipated that 6 days should be adequate. The fire has been exacerbated by relatively strong winds (gusting to in excess of 25mph), attributable to an high pressure ridge. The wind has brought hazy conditions to Portmore and much of Kingston city.

Furthermore, noxious fumes associated with the Riverton fire, led to respiratory problems within the Kingston metropolitan area (KMA). Numerous individuals, including children were taken to health centers and hospitals across the KMA. Thereby leading to a closure of in excess of 40 schools on Friday.

Possible Solutions To The Riverton City Debacle

Residents within Kingston and Its ambient environment has lost count of the numerous fires at the Riverton disposal site. However, a solution is yet to be determined and implemented. As I've stated earlier, Jennifer Edwards opines that the current fire is the largest fire at the dump, suggesting that a solution should be sought with alacrity.

Relocation of the dump should be considered, as Riverton's location in Jamaica's largest metropolitan area is untenable. However, relocation may prove to be cumbersome; especially if a new dump/landfill was sited in the parish of St Catherine. As commercial and residential towns are aplenty. Namely, Spanish town, Old Harbour and Portmore. Additionally, the state should consider divesting the dump.

However, a more feasible and short term measure is to simply increase NSWMA's budget. The entity has been operating on a string-like budget for many years. I have no doubt with an adequate budget should limit or eliminate possibility of future fires at the problem plagued Riverton dump.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 6 March 2015

Jamaica's Relatively High Road Fatality Rate...Revisited!

Just over a month ago, I wrote an article entitled Jamaica's Relatively High Road Fatality Rate, And Preventive Measures; the estimated road fatalities in 2014 were approximately 330. The officials aim to have this figure at 240 or fewer in 2015 and beyond. However, the officials may have difficulties achieving this target.

To see why, at least 56 individuals have been killed on our roads since January 1st. If we continue at this pace, the dreaded 300+ figure may be on the cards. March is not looking good either. On Sunday March 1st, 2015, four foreign nationals were along the Braco section of the north coast highway in Trelawny. Subsequently, two young females were killed in the parish of Clarendon.

Mangled car along the Braco main road in Trelawny. Source of image: OTGNR

Braco Crash And Ensuing Debate

As stated above, four foreign nationals were killed along the Braco section of the north coast highway, three Dominican nationals and a Spanish national. They were employed at the Gran Bahia Principe hotel in St Ann.

Following the tragic accident, concerns have been raised about the aforementioned stretch of road. Carvel Stewart, president of the incorporated masterbuilders association of Jamaica (IMAJ), evinces that polishing of the Braco road surface is taking place. Mr. Stewart surmise friction of the road surface has been reduced (making the road prone to skidding), largely attributable to inferior material and prolong wearing of the surface.

In light of the tragedy, a meeting involving stakeholders is planned for Monday March 1, 2015, as expressed in an article entitled Meeting planned after horrifying Trelawny crash. However, not discounting the surface of the road, it seem as if speeding played a significant role in the crash.

The Role Of Speeding In Crashes

It is generally accepted that speeding plays a major role in road crashes, add to that improper overtaking. Jamaica is often given the moniker "land of speed", unfortunately, excessive speeding has taken numerous lives on our roads.

Juxtaposed to a car travelling at 50kmph (31mph), a car travelling at 100kmph (62mph) has four times more energy; this can be seen using the formula of motion, Kinetic energy = 1/2MV^2; mass remains constant, however, the velocity is squared, I will give examples with a car of mass 1500kg; Ke = 1/2*1500*50^2; Ke =  1.875*10^6N (for a car traveling at 50kmph); Ke = 1/2*1500*100^2; Ke = 7.5*10^6N (for a car traveling at 100kmph).

Essentially, a car traveling at 100kmph has an exponential probability to do work/result in damage, vis a vis a car travelling at 50kmph.

Seat Belts And Airbags

A chronic problem in Jamaica is not wearing of seatbelts. It is often seen as a toy, especially in public passenger vehicles. Sometimes seat belts are faulty, or non-existent. However, seatbelts and airbags are often the difference between life and death during a collision. These devices keep an individual from being thrown from a vehicle, and gradually dissipates energy.


Various studies suggest that Jamaica has a behavioral problem when it comes to road usage; excessive speeding, not wearing of seatbelts, etc. These behavioral problems may take a generation to fix. But in the short term, greater enforcement of traffic laws are needed. Additionally, the new road traffic bill should be promulgated in parliament with alacrity. Plus, I want to urge motorists and pedestrians to use roads with caution.

It likely that I will revisit topic going forward. Thanks for stopping by!


Seat Belts And Airbags, Advice on safety, Safe ride.

Road surface retexturing processes, Idiots' guide to highways maintenance

Bahia mourns as 4 staffers perish in Trelawny crash, Jamaica Gleaner.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Marijuana Has Been Decriminalized, Now What?

Historic, momentous and groundbreaking, these are some of the adjectives used to describe the move to decriminalize small quantities of marijuana. Marijuana is widely known as Ganja in Jamaica and the Caribbean, largely attributable to east Indian influences.

Marijuana plants. Source of image: Voice Chronicle

Senate Passes Ganja Law, this was an headline in a Jamaica Gleaner article on February 7, 2015. Following the aforementioned move in Jamaica's upper house, the lower house followed suit, by enacting the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act.

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act makes possession of two ounces of marijuana a ticket-able offense, without the fear of being apprehended. Moreover, individuals convicted of pass offences correlating to Ganja shall have their records expunged. A Jamaica Observer article entitled Ganja Law Gets Green Light made mention of further amendments:

Additionally, the bill prohibits the smoking of ganja in public places, and makes provisions for the granting of licences, permits and other authorizations to enable the establishment of a regulated industry for ganja for medical, scientific, and therapeutic uses.

Now What?

The amended Dangerous Act removes criminal punishment with possession of two ounces of ganja or less. However, trafficking of large quantities of ganja remains illegal. This was seemingly missed an individual, who went to a police station seeking directions, with in excess of 90 pounds of ganja in his possession. Is he naive or misinformed?

Additionally, importation of ganja into the US is prohibited. This was affirmed by assistant secretary of the bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs (INL), William R. Brownfield. Essentially, extensive export of ganja is not permitted.

However, opportunities exists to develop a nascent medical marijuana industry. Local scientist, Dr Henry Lowe, is poised to be a beneficiary of medical marijuana and hemp industries. Dr Lowe, through Medicanja limited, opines that Jamaica stands to accrue significant benefits from a US $ 2.5 billion industry. Additionally, Dr Lowe is seeking to launch an initial public offering (IPO), as expressed in an article entitled Lowe Launches Jamaica's First Medical Marijuana Company.  Medicanja IPO By Early 2015.

Many Jamaicans foresee an increase in tourist arrivals from recent amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act. Furthermore, ganja is being touted as a solution to Jamaica's economic problems. Though, this is an overly optimistic expectation. However, if managed properly, Jamaica should stand to attain numerous benefits by decriminalizing ganja.

Thanks for stopping by!


US official cautions Jamaica on ganja legalization, Jamaica Observer.

Ganja, Urban Dictionary