The month of April 2019 rolled in with word that the grandstand at the National Sports Centre was in for a million dollar facelift. Four days into the fourth month of last year, a 48-year-old groundsman suffered severe hand injuries when several of his fingers were severed in an early morning industrial accident. It was also the month Bermuda Real disclosed that the new public bus schedules proposed rosters with no bathroom breaks, 7.5 hours of straight driving that presented major health and safety issues for the island’s bus operators. Needless to say at the end of the day that hair brain scheme was scrapped! On April 15, 2019, Bermuda recorded another road traffic fatality which claimed the life of a young man who died when his motorcycle was involved with a head-on collision with a police car. Ten months later – still no word on the outcome of the investigation into the circumstances of that fatal accident, involving a female police officer who was driving the police car.
National Sports Centre Grandstand To Get $1 Million Facelift
News | April 3, 2019
News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda, April 3, 2019 – Members of the public will have limited access to the grandstand at the National Sports Centre as it undergoes remediation work.
One million dollars has been to the project which is being overseen by the NSC’s Board of Trustees and which is due to finish in August.
The work involves power washing, sandblasting, painting, and replacing all parts relating to the integrity of the steel roof truss members and is being carried out by Bermudian firm Sunrise Construction.
Craig Tyrell, Operations Manager said: ““This is quite extensive work and will give the grandstand, which was originally built in 2002, a much-needed facelift to ensure it continues to be a fantastic facility for the community.”
Police: Man Loses ‘Several Fingers Severed From His Left Hand’ In Industrial Accident
News | April 4, 2019
Bus Operators: New Rosters, No Bathroom Breaks, 7.5 Hours Of Straight Driving Present Major Health Issues
News | April 4, 2019
On the eve of what looks set to be another record breaking cruise ship season, with more passengers scheduled to arrive here than ever before, public transportation officials may soon find themselves faced with unprecedented health and safety issues at the height of a list of pressing concerns, held by unionised bus operators.
The first two cruise ships due to arrive King’s Wharf in Dockyard arrives on Friday, (April 5), with the second ship due in at the west end port on Saturday.
As quiet as its kept, Bermuda Real can disclose tonight that bus operators met this week to discuss the new bus schedule, now on trial for its first test run, with 80 rosters and less buses, particularly as it relates to west end commuters.
Topping their list of concerns, is the fact that several rosters do not allow any time for drivers to relieve themselves and the rosters for general orders see operators driving for 7.5 hours straight, with no break.
One driver complained that it was as if they were expected to no longer have kidneys.
Bermuda Real also understands that they plan to meet with the Health & Safety representatives responsible for Government employees, to have these matters addressed.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, another driver said if it comes down to using the bathroom or running late “it’s a no-brainer”.
Others questioned a 7.5-hour schedule of straight driving with no real break for anything. The health concerns for operators who are also diabetic could have serious ramifications.
Drivers also anticipate serious backups and backlogs due to removal of the bus routes that serviced Barnes Corner and Grotto Bay. Those buses traditionally used to pick up the slack, so to speak, or the overflow.
This year will see unprecedented demand for lift out of Dockyard for the anticipated 68,000 cruise ship visitors expected this season, with a total of 192 calls to Bermuda.
Projections say that translates into an estimated 544,000 passengers on our shores this season, marking a 14 percent increase over the figure recorded in 2018, which is expected to generate $7.9 million in tax revenue and increase visitor spending, which is great for Bermuda’s economy.
But what about those public transportation horror stories, especially the one about the bus that never showed up, or the countless tourists left stranded waiting for a bus at Horseshoe Bay?
What about our west end residents – the ones who this year, will stand at bus stops for the 18th year and watch buses filled to capacity right out of Dockyard drive straight past them?
From where Mr & Mrs Resident bus commuters sit – it would appear that too will be all on them.
Taxpayers will be left holding the bag again – still paying , still waiting to see how this test run is going to work and most likely, still waiting for a bus service that pays no service to them for 18 cruise ship seasons.
Rest assured it’s going to be interesting to say the least! And once again, here we go once AGAIN!
Residents Urged To See & Hear Plans To Make Shelly Bay Beach Accessible For Bermuda’s Disabled
News | April 9, 2019
Residents who stood firm against Bermuda Tourism Authority plans to include Shelly Bay Beach in the National Tourism Plan, will have another chance to have their say on the plan coming out of their objections to make the popular neighourhood beach accessible for the disabled.
Members of the public are urged to attend a town hall meeting hosted by the Ministry of Public Works this Thursday, April 11th at Francis Patton gymnasium 11 at 6:30pm.
Ministry representatives will be on hand to present “the proposed plans for the addition of accessible facilities for seniors and the disabled at Shelly Bay Beach”.
“The Ministry will also share with attendees proposed plans for a small concession area in the Shelly Bay park.”
The Ministry is also “keen to ensure that any proposed additions or enhancements to the Shelly Bay Park area receive public input”.
Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch will be there with other Government MPs from the surrounding constituencies “to address any queries from area residents and interested members of the public”.
Two Male Teens Arrested In Connection With Animal Cruelty Video
News | April 9, 2019
Hard on the heels of the joint investigation, two male teens remain in police custody tonight, in connection with that video went viral showing acts of cruelty to young lams owned by Westover Farm in Sandys Parish.
The two teens, one aged 19 and the other, a 16-year-old boy, were arrested this afternoon and remain in police custody tonight as the investigation continues.
Police said they had identified some of the people involved yesterday, after the video, which runs for just under two minutes; surfaced on the local social media circuit this past weekend, showing the attack.
Cruelty to animals is an offence under Bermuda’s Care and Protection of Animals Act 1975 and carries penalties of up to 12 months in prison with fines.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources launched a joint investigation with the police.
A spokeswoman said: “We are saddened by the depraved actions that are depicted on the video, which i suspected to have been made within the last week or so.
AXA XL Promotes Jennifer Minors To SVP – Bermuda Product Line Leader
News | April 10, 2019
Commenting on the promotion, Patrick Tannock, Managing Director at AXA XL and XL Bermuda Ltd, Insurance Chief Executive Officer, said: “Jennifer has consistently demonstrated learning agility and adaptability. Given the accelerated rate of change and innovation that is impacting our industry, it is important to acknowledge Jennifer’s contributions in creating new and enhanced solutions to address evolving risk so that we remain relevant and can capitalize on the opportunities that come from change.”
Last Call: Two Young Black Bermudian Males Top Billboard As No 1 On Gospel Music Chart
News | April 10, 2019
Bermudians Tricray Astwood and Adrian Jones, better known as Last Call, are today preparing to release a statement on their recent feat, but that’s not how we roll at Bermuda Real.
They just arrived back on island after attending the Stellar Awards in Las Vegas after a short radio tour on the east coast of the United States.
When contacted by Bermuda Real this morning, Tricray said : “We think that’s what gave us the push to the number one spot.”
Two days ago, Tricray shared this on his Facebook page: “We never knew the song would get this far – perhaps top 20 but never number 1.
“We are extremely humbled and blessed that this has happened.”
Last Call Signs Gospel Record Deal After Topping Charts For 20 Weeks & Counting
News | April 11, 2019
Hard on the heels of topping the charts on Billboard for the number one gospel song for 20 weeks, there’s word today that the President of DarkChild Gospel, Fred ‘Uncle Freddie’ Jerkins III, announced “the signing of gospel music’s current rising stars, Last Call, to its roster”.
According to the statement, it came just after “the 2019 Stellar Gospel Music Awards, where the duo presented on the annual pre-show and performed at various music showcases, the Bermuda based best friends of Last Call, Adrian Jones and Tricay Astwood, continue to celebrate the success of their smash hit radio single, ‘Victory’, which currently sits at #1 on the Billboard Gospel National Airplay Chart”.
Police Order Another Shutdown At Southampton Rangers Again
News | April 13, 2019
The Bermuda Police Service has ordered another 24-hour shutdown for Southampton Rangers Sports Club, following two incidents at the club last weekend.
This is the second time the club has been shut down as a result of antisocial behavior within the past three months.
The first club shutdown under the Liquor Licencing Act was Docksiders on Front Street in Hamilton earlier this year.
Man Killed In Early Morning Fatal Crash With Police Car In Sandys Parish
News | April 15, 2019
Bermuda recorded another road traffic fatality during the early morning hours this morning, when a 21-year-old male motorcyclist lost his life following a collision with a marked police car.
The accident occurred around 1:55am near Willowbank Resort and Conference Centre.
A spokesman said: “Details are still emerging but it appears that a female police officer was responding to a call for service and driving a marked police car west on Main Road, when it appears that a male riding a motorcycle collided with the police car.
“This resulted in the 21-year-old Sandys man being taken via ambulance to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital where he subsequently died as a result of his injuries.”
A full investigation is now underway, being led by Sergeant Dorian Astwood of the Roads Policing Unit.
Police: Reported Armed Robbery At Champs Variety – No Reported Injuries
News | April 16, 2019
Police responded to a reported armed robbery at Champs Variety on Glebe Road in Pembroke around 12:45pm on Monday (April 15).
A spokesman said: ” It appears that two suspects entered the store and demanded money, with one of the individuals pointing an object at the cashier that was covered in a piece of clothing – but believed to be a firearm.
“Both suspects then left the area on a red motorcycle with an undisclosed amount of cash.
“No one was hurt in the incident and inquiries are underway.”
Premier Expresses Condolences On The Passing Of The Great Lloyd James
News | April 16, 2019
Premier David Burt has extended condolences on the passing of Lloyd James.
In a statement released on Monday, Mr Burt said: “Lloyd James led a life of service; a humble yet dignified and true gentleman.
“His stride to the wicket struck fear in the hearts of many a Somerset bowler. His dominance in the game of cricket was matched with his time in representative politics when he served the people of Warwick at a time when to do so on behalf of the Progressive Labour Party required unique sacrifice.
“Whether in business, education or sport, Lloyd James served with distinction. On behalf of the Government and people of Bermuda I extend heartfelt condolences to his wife, Betty, daughters Joanne and Ria, as well as to his extended family and friends.”
Mr James, fondly recalled as a Cup Match legend – an epic giant – died at the age of 82.
Condolences to his family and many friends, especially to my Purvis School mate Joanne. May he forever Rest In Peace.
Police Confirm Death Of Antoine Seaman & Officer In Fatal Crash Was Driving Alone
News | April 16, 2019
The Bermuda Police Service has confirmed the death of 21-year-old Antoine Seaman who was killed in a fatal road crash with a police vehicle.
The motorcyclist, of Granaway Drive, Southampton, died as a result of his injuries when his bike was in collision with a police car near Willowbank in Sandys.
The early morning crash occurred while a female police officer, heading west in a marked patrol car was responding to a report of a disturbance.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, the Roads Policing Unit officer heading up the investigation, Sergeant Dorian Astwood, denied claims that the victim was being chased by police when the accident occurred.
Mr Seaman’s death marks the fourth road traffic fatality on Bermuda’s roads this year.
Sgt Astwood also confirmed that “a full notification has been passed to the independent body the Police Complaints Authority”.
“This is normal practice as required by legislation and ensures full transparency,” he said.
“This applies to incidents involving death or serious injury where an officer acting in the execution of his or her duty causes, or appears to have caused, death or serious injury to any person.
“The Commissioner of Police shall, as soon as practicable, give the authority a written notice setting out particulars of the incident in which death or serious injury was caused,” he added.
But he declined to comment on the circumstances of this fatal crash.
“We understand that this collision occurred less than 12 hours ago and there is a family mourning at this time, so it is correct we show compassion and don’t pre-empt any decisions or suggestions as to the circumstances at this time,” he said.
He did say the officer driving the car involved was uninjured and that at the time of the accident, she was in the car alone.
Police are now looking to pinpoint the victim’s whereabouts from 11pm on Sunday night.
Sgt Astwood added: “We are sensitive to the fact that this fatality took place in the early hours…and Antoine’s community are still coming to grips with this most unfortunate situation.”
While noting that “details are still emerging”, he confirmed that the police officer driving the car was heading west and that the victim was travelling east in the opposite direction.
PLP Statement Of Condolences On The Passing Of Rosheena Beek
News | April 17, 2019
News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda – The Progressive Labour Party would like to extend heartfelt condolences to the Beek family on the passing of Ms Rosheena Beek.
Remembered as a ‘wonderful spirit’, Rosheena was the owner of Nubian Nook and took pride in encouraging the awareness and appreciation of African culture especially within the black community with books reflecting positive images and contributions of blacks worldwide at her bookstore.
Rosheena was an entrepreneur, videographer, author, mother of three and grandmother.
She encouraged the love of reading and supported African cultural education. She also sold various garments and accessories from West Africa, as well as health and natural products.
Most recently, Rosheena supported the PLP Wakanda Royalty Gala dressing hundreds of its patrons for the African themed event.
We are truly saddened by her passing and send our sincere condolences to her three children, family, loved ones and friends. Our hearts go out to you all during this most difficult time. She will truly be missed.
Statement From The Premier On Job Losses At Butterfield Bank
News | April 17, 2019
“It is clear that Bermuda requires greater diversification in the banking sector to create more employment opportunities for Bermudians and more banking choices for Bermudian consumers. Consequently, the government will increase our efforts to diversify our banking sector as a matter of national priority.
“In 2009 the Government of Bermuda stepped in to assist Butterfield Bank when its future, the security of depositors deposits and Bermudian jobs were in jeopardy. For the Bermudian workers who have been made redundant today, the government intends to be there for you, just as we were for Butterfield Bank in 2009.
“I have asked the Minister responsible for Workforce Development to make available the full array of services at her disposal to ensure that the affected employees are aware of and where applicable, paired with suitable employment opportunities, training or retraining needed to get them back to work. As Butterfield Bank has obligations to their shareholders, the Bermudians who now find themselves out of work have obligations to their families. We will do everything in our power to ensure that those former employees of Butterfield have the support needed to get through this difficult period.”
Mr Chicken Opens At 11am In Somerset Today – Official Ribbon Cutting On Saturday
News | April 18, 2019
Twelve Bermudians, who all live in Somerset, will be on the job for a soft opening later today, at the new Mr Chicken in Sandys where they are looking to hire at least two more.
For Beryl and David Furbert, opening their fifth restaurant since the first Mr Chicken opened at Heron Bay in 1985, marked the end of an uphill battle that saw a never ending list of hold-ups led by the Planning Department.
Asked how it feels to finally get the go ahead to open, at the small appreciation gathering held at the new facility last evening, they both said all they feel at this point is a sense of relief.
Bermuda Real sat down with Mr Furbert at the new restaurant on Wednesday morning. Asked for his full name he smiled and replied: “David E Furbert and the ‘E’ stands for Everything”. In actual fact, it stands for Eugene.
He went on to say that he is a ‘back-of-town [bie] from Pembroke, and that his wife, Beryl is “actually a Somerset gal, who was formerly a Riley”. They have been married for 45 years and reside in Devonshire.
They have two sons and one daughter and six grandchildren. He recounted how his daughter worked at Mr Chicken as a cashier at the age of ten. He also recalled how one of his son’s literally despised working at the restaurant and more often than not he said: “I left him home.”
The couple purchased the building that used to house Dean’s Bakery and Jamaican Grill in November 2017.
If they opted to leave it as a take-out restaurant he said there would have been very few, if any issues that required permission from the Department of Planning.
But with all that space, they opted to make it a restaurant with seating.
“One of my sons is an architect, so we had him draw up the plans and applied to change the use of that area,” Mr Furbert said.
“And they treated it like it was a brand new building from there. It was a nightmare!
“Then the Health Department came with an inspector, who said we have to have a bathroom equipped for the disabled. But he put it like I had to do it, which is not the case.
“Then the inspector from the Department of Planning stopped the work in progress because we did not have a permit for the bathroom.
Mr Furbert said he was aware of it and looking to address it because that’s a difficult area for seniors to get around that corner safely.
Since November 2017 up to today, he said he has no excitement left and that this difficult journey left him with “strong, emotional mood swings”.
“I was depressed and told my wife twice that we should just lock the door and leave. She never said ‘no’ and she understood,” Mr Furbert said.
When asked what she told him, Ms Furbert said: “I just said we’ve come this far and that we should finish what we started.”
Mr Furbert noted that both he and his wife were seriously considering selling the business and move out of Bermuda to live abroad.
But he said: “My children talked me out of it and they were right. They were the reason we started this business in the first place and that was in 1985.”
Asked what keeps him sane through all the trials and tribulations and he paused for a minute, then reflected back on his football days and 44 years of coaching.
“I played for Devonshire Colts as a defender and I played on Bermuda’s National Team back in my day.
“As a baller, I played my best games ever against some to the best players and I love the challenge. I also played for North Village when I was around the age of 21, then I moved to Devonshire Colts.”
He also coached footballers for 44 years.
“I stopped coaching about three years ago and really missed it lot for the first two years.”
“I still miss it, but I really missed it bad for about two years, now I think I’m over it. I got over over myself,” he said.
“The building was blessed on Tuesday, by the Reverend Howard Dill and my sister-in-law Grenell Stocks,” he said.
At 71-years of age, he said: “I look back sometimes and marvel at how we were able to get where we are today.
“We just hired 12 full and part-time employees and they all live in Somerset. Most of them are young people and we need at least two more,” said Mr Furbert.
“In all, we have five restaurants and 52 employees and only nine are non-Bermudians. And I find that my best workers are young Black males contrary to what you hear out there, that’s not true, not to me anyway.
“I think Bermudians stigmatise people, we do it to ourselves a lot and it needs to stop because it’s a myth,” Mr Fubert said.
“I also want to thank Progressive Labour Party MP Derrick Burgess. I’ve already told him personally but I want to say ‘thank you’ publicly for being the only one to get the Department of Planning to move on our project – finally!”
- Photos by Cleon Furbert
Three Teens Aged 19, 18 & 16 Arrested After Armed Robbery Near Port Royal Gas Station
News | April 18, 2019
Hard on the heels of an armed robbery of a man robbed of an undisclosed amount of cash, while sitting outside Port Royal Gas Station in Southampton this afternoon, three men have been arrested by police.
And get this, one of the men allegedly involved dropped his cell phone, which his victim picked up after the incident that occurred around 2:30pm.
Two men armed with a “bladed article” made off with cash before three suspects were arrested.
A spokesman said: “Early information also suggests that the individuals involved briefly entered the gas station, but that the premises was not the target of the assailants.
“A 19-year-old man was arrested, followed by two more suspects, believed to be aged 16 and 18,” the spokesman added.
No More Parties At Southampton Rangers ‘For The Foreseeable Future’
News | April 19, 2019
Southampton Rangers Sports Club put the word out via Instagram on Thursday that there will be no more parties held there “for the foreseeable future”.
This after two 24-hour shutdowns ordered by police due to violence at the facility.
The notice said: “Please be advised due to recent events there will be no parties at the club for the foreseeable future.”
It was posted after the last shutdown from midnight last Saturday night after two reported antisocial incidents there the previous weekend, marking the second closure in less than three months.
The first 24-hour closure in February was ordered following an early morning all-out brawl – several men were injured.
But the club will host their Good Friday community day today, “for all members in the community, looking for something to do.”
The invite was also posted on Instagram said: “Feel free to join us at the club for fun castles, Easter egg hunt and free fish cakes and hot cross buns.
“We would like to take this time to wish everyone a safe and blessed holiday.”
OBA Leader Cannonier: Where Is The Economic Stimulus Plan?
News | April 19, 2019
- The following statement was released by One Bermuda Alliance Leader, Craig Cannonier on Thursday, April 18, 2019
“The job losses at Butterfield Bank are a body blow but the warning signs were there for the Government to see,” Opposition Leader Craig Cannonier said, adding that “questions that must be asked are, where is the economic stimulus plan and, after Butterfield, who is next?”
His comments follow after 30 employees in Bermuda accepted voluntary early retirement packages, 11 positions were made redundant, and Butterfield’s Rosebank Banking Centre and Drive-Thru Teller Services in Hamilton have closed.
Mr Cannonier said: “The volume of retail sales have fallen for ten consecutive months – it is mid-April, why haven’t we had the figures for January and February – business confidence down, back office jobs are leaving Bermuda, the cost of doing business is rising and our taxes and health costs have increased.
“We have also seen reports on the housing market from the Chamber of Commerce which said that last year prices ‘dropped beyond anything we have seen in recent years’. People and businesses are hurting.”
The Opposition Leader noted the Premier’s tone in his statement and said “although it may please his core supporters”, what was most interesting is what he failed to address.
The bank’s statement on the job losses contained a quote from Michael Neff, the managing director, Bermuda, which said, ‘Reflecting customers’ preferences to increasingly conduct their banking transactions through electronic channels, we have seen in-branch volumes drop by over 50 per cent during the last decade.
This is a form of financial technology, or FinTech, which can create but also destroy jobs through greater efficiencies. In the long-run it could actually mean fewer jobs.
I hope all those affected by the redundancies are able to find new employment very soon, but given the parlous state of our economy, the questions that must be asked are, where is the economic stimulus plan and, after Butterfield, who is next?
MP Michael Weeks – ‘The Better Our Children And Country Deserve’
News | April 24, 2019
- The following statement was released by Progressive Labour Party MP Michael Weeks in response to One Bermuda Alliance Leader Craig Cannonier on April 23, 2019
Opposition Leader: Yes Mr Weeks Our Children Do Deserve Better
News | April 22, 2019
- The following statement was released last week and embargoed until today, Monday, April 22, 2019 by One Bermuda Alliance Leader Craig Cannonier
Michael Weeks, in a recent article, accused the One Bermuda Alliance of being revisionist. I thought it was a wonderful piece of deflection – the PLP’s usual modus operandi – which is ordinarily not worth the time it takes to read, let alone reply.
This one was different however, as it made an issue about the protection and care of our children who do not always have the platform from which to speak (or the services of people to speak for them).
In the article, Mr Weeks says ‘the mold issue is a legacy from the OBA administration’. Mr Weeks – when we came to into Government we where confronted by the most frightening balance book in Bermuda’s history.
We inherited out of control spending and a burgeoning debt that, if allowed to go unchecked, had Bermuda on a one-way track to financial meltdown. We would have loved to have had more money to fix everything – but your Party’s monetary incompetence made that impossible.
In the last two Budgets, the PLP failed to balance its books and as a result, the debt continues to grow. They will be in a financial straight jacket for generations. I agree, our children do deserve better, but the PLP has let them down.
Mr Weeks’ article says the ‘PLP believes in investing the necessary resources to ensure our children are educated in safe schools’, but he has overlooked an inconvenient truth – the money allocated by this Government in the education budget for minor works and school safety has been reduced by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Is this what our children deserve? What do you think Mr and Mrs Bermuda?
Was a $1.2m ‘friends and family’ payment an investment in the ‘necessary resources to ensure our children are educated in safe schools? I don’t think it was, do you?
In regards to TN Tatem, it is important to point out that the OBA took very decisive action and after performing things like air quality tests, we moved all students to Clearwater while full remediation work was carried out. We felt that action, coupled with proper maintenance, would keep the school in good order.
So my question is: what was the maintenance programme under the PLP to prevent mold coming back?
This summer the PLP will have been in Government for two years, yet Mr Weeks somehow wants everyone to believe that everything happening at TN Tatem is the OBA’s fault.
That is just a deflection from the fact that in that time, despite promises to the contrary, his Government has not solved this issue. It looks as if mold will be a PLP legacy, doesn’t it?
Shadow Minister of Finance Nick Kempe recently wrote an opinion piece which detailed, point by point, by the rise in Government’s propaganda machine and a ‘pattern of voices critical to Government being silenced and of independent organisations being dismantled or subject to political interference’.
He pointed out in his article that the budget for ‘communications’ has increased by $2.7m.
So is PR and spin the priority over education? It seems it is as because despite all those budget increases, we are being told that the Department of Education is seeking to employ a media consultant – for how much we don’t know – but wouldn’t it be better to spend the money on issues affecting education rather than a propaganda machine that will spin us the lie that everything in education is good?
Does PR now outweigh the needs of our children? Our children deserve better, don’t you think?
Lastly, while we have seen the PR budget rocket, we have also seen the continued under-funding for litigation guardians and a near total silence from the Attorney General on the Department of Child and Family Services.
We agree, our children do deserve so much better.
Back To Old Bus Schedule On Monday As Residents Pay $70 For Bus Pass For Buses To Pass You By
News | April 25, 2019
Six weeks after the new bus schedule went into effect, Transport officials announced that Bermuda’s public buses will go back to the old schedule as of Monday.
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Transport Minister Zane DeSilva said the new schedule was scrapped because of complaints about service, or the lack of it, and rest times for drivers.
What he did not say was why bus schedules that saw bus operators on general orders, were scheduled to drive for 7.5 hours straight, with no breaks in the first place.
Keep in mind that this fiasco has continued unabated for the past 17 years, to the tune of $1.7 million paid to a Canadian consultant for bus schedules we have yet to see come to fruition.
The initial figure quoted was $1.6m but more money was paid out to this consultant since then.
The Minister has yet to say on the record, whether or not this consultant is still getting paid out of the public purse for a service that is not serving the general public, who pay for this service 365 days a year – not just during the cruise ship season.
And we have yet to hear the plan that currently has Mr & Mrs Bermuda bus commuters paying $70 for a monthly bus pass for buses to pass them by, particularly at the west end.
Two weeks ago, this journalist waited deliberately, for the Number 7 bus coming out of Dockyard, shortly after 9am, at the east bound bus stop near the gas station at Boaz Island.
Needless to say, it arrived filled to capacity with room for one more, but from there; straight through to Horseshoe Bay Beach, we stood in the aisle jammed up like sardines.
And every single person standing along that route waiting for the bus, watched that bus drive straight past them – stopped counting how many before we got to Southampton.
Question: Is it too much to ask for a least five seats to be left vacant for locals who need the Number 7 bus to get to work, for instance? What is the policy moving forward?
How many experts does it take exactly to grasp the fact that the problem is not bus rosters – the problem is we don’t have enough buses?
It is not rocket science, but at this point, it would appear that the task is apparently monumental for the decision makers. At what point will they actually make a decision?
For west end residents, this has been a sore issue for the past 17 years and now we’re in year 18.
But as of Monday, it’s back to the old schedule and this is only the first month that begins with the letter ‘A’ – wait until August!
“After six weeks of operating the new 2019 bus schedule it is being determined that the change is necessary to thoroughly address concerns with schedule trip times and rest times for bus operators,” said the Minister.
Two bus routes eliminated – Barnes Corner and Grotto Bay, will be reinstated to pick up the overflow like they used to.
Whose bright idea was that in the first place? Did they actually ride that bus route before making the decision to change it?
“The new schedule did not provide sufficient rest time between trips, presenting health and safety concerns for bus operators and the travelling public and must be addressed immediately,” Mr DeSilva said.
“This decision was not taken lightly but it is the only recourse to address concerns and safety of our operators and passengers.”
Question: Isn’t that what bus operators said in the first place?
The Minister conceded that the new 2019 schedule did not address rest time for operators. Why not? Surely taxpayers paid more than enough to expect all things to be considered.
Moving forward, the Minister said: “The reassessment process would take several months to complete and it is not anticipated that any further changes will occur prior to September 2019.”
Translation: Nothing will happen this summer – a summer that will see a record number of cruise ship passengers landed on our shores. And we all know the old bus schedule, struggled to say the least, with the numbers last year.
While noting that “further announcements will be made in due course”, Mr DeSilva said: “The Department of Public Transportation is grateful for your understanding and apologises for any inconvenience.”
On April 4, 2019, Bermuda Real published an article with this headline ‘Bus Operators: New Rosters, No Bathroom Breaks, 7.5 Hours of Straight Driving Present Major Health Issues’.
It was published on the eve of “what looks set to be another record breaking cruise ship season, with more passengers scheduled to arrive here than ever before”.
The report said: “Public transportation officials may soon find themselves faced with unprecedented health and safety issues at the height of a list of pressing concerns, held by unionised bus operators.”
Bus operators were called to a meeting at the Bermuda Industrial Union last Thursday, the night before Good Friday.
Government’s Health and Safety Officer was in that meeting. To date, with the exception of the Minister’s reference to “rest times for drivers”, there has been no official comment.
With or without it, bus operators have clearly had their concerns heard and acted upon.
Now it’s back to square one and here we go round and round again.
Who is responsible for all of this? Who will be held accountable? Will they held accountable? Will upper management officials be required toactually ride the buses they are in charge of? Why isn’t that a requirement? And if not – when?
The time line will show that this never ending saga has lived through three administrations, 14 years under the Progressive Labour Party, five years under the One Bermuda Alliance, now we’re back to a PLP Government.
What’s the common denominator? The civil servants in those upper echelons who we do not vote for – they keep their jobs no matter which party is in charge. And that’s whether or not they do their jobs.
We will see unprecedented demand for lift out of Dockyard for the anticipated 68,000 cruise ship visitors expected this season, with a total of 192 calls to Bermuda.
That translates into an estimated 544,000 passengers on our shores this season, marking a 14 percent increase over the figure recorded in 2018, which is expected to generate $7.9 million in tax revenue and increase visitor spending.
And that’s great for Bermuda’s economy. But what about Mr & Mrs Bermuda bus commuters?
One thing is clear – it’s going to be a long hot summer – and no – we are NOT going to Horseshoe Bay!
Bermuda Hotel Association Scholarship Renamed In Honour Of Adrian Hassell
News | April 27, 2019
This change has been made to honour the impact made by Adrian Hassell, a young Bermudian and former recipient of the scholarship.
This change has been made to honour the impact made by Adrian Hassell, a young Bermudian and former recipient of the scholarship, who sadly passed away on January 1, 2019.
Mr Hassell was a Concierge Agent at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and was previously an intern at the Bermuda Tourism Authority. He received the BHA Scholarship in 2015 to study Hotel Management and made a lasting impression on the selection committee.
The scholarship is available to any Bermudian who is interested in pursuing international studies in the hospitality industry. The 2019 application process closes on May 31st and more details can be found at www.bermudascholarships.com.
The announcement of the renaming was attended by Mr Hassell’s family, former colleagues at Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and representatives of the BHA and Bermuda Tourism Authority.
- Photos Supplied: Joanna Hassell, Christopher Hassell, Glenn Jones BTA, Tim Morrison, hamilton Princess & Beach Club and Stephen Todd, Bermuda Hotel Association
Meet The Bright Young Men Behind New TreeFrog App For Government News & Information
News | April 27, 2019
Bermuda College students who helped create the first app created as a result of a new Workforce Development partnership “to design, maintain and enhance mobile apps that make government better and more efficient”.
Announcing the official launch at a news conference this week, Premier David Burt noted that Treefrog – the new Government Notification Application, will help r”government relay information to its citizens and allow residents to communicate issues to the Government”.
When he met with the students involved back in February, he said: “The pledge that I made to them at that time was that this will not be the end of their experience.”
That was “just the beginning”, he said.
“I want the Bermuda College to be a place where the Government’s vision of our young people learning how to build mobile applications becomes a reality.
“The Treefrog will send notifications to mobile devices based on notification category, turned on and off by the user,” he added.
“This project is a testament to the talent we have in Bermuda and the vision this Government has for creating new opportunities for our youth, creation of jobs in this economy and providing opportunities to Bermudians first.
He also noted that “upgrading the skills of Bermuda’s labour force through a solid workforce development plan is critical to our long-term prospects for broad-based and inclusive economic growth”.
“The Government will continue to invest in all of our people, but especially our young people, so that no one is left out of the success that we are working to bring to the Island,” said Mr Burt.
“That is the reason that starting next year every public school graduate with a 3.0 GPA or better will be able to attend the Bermuda College free of charge.
“And that is why in the last two years, 500 Bermudians, young and not so young, have been able to upgrade their skills or earn a degree at the Bermuda College due to new financial aid grants to ensure that the size of your bank account does not restrict your access to higher education.
“Today, we are witnessing what our young people can do if give this opportunity.”
“It is uniquely Bermudian and can be heard from one end of the island to the other.
Overtime, he said the app will “evolve”.“And I am relying on these young men to make that a reality. I ask Bermuda to support these young men, by installing and sharing this application,” he added.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Bermuda, I want to say congratulations on a job well done.”
Prison Officers Set To Meet With POA Following Attack By Inmates At Westgate
News | April 29, 2019
Prison Officers are set to meet with the executive of the Prison Officers Association later today, following the attack by inmates that left three officers, including a female officer injured on Friday.
The island’s maximum security prison was placed on lockdown for the weekend. No official word yet on when it will be lifted.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, National Security Minister Wayne Caines said the inmates involved were put in segregation.
One officer suffered minor facial injuries, another officer injured a knee and the third officer injured sustained a back injury.
A full investigation is now underway, but in the interim, the Minister said: “This matter is under control. We have a contingency plan if things escalate. We do not believe they will escalate.”
He also stated that the safety and security of prison officers and staff was a priority.
“We believe that the protection of all of our officers in all of our facilities is paramount.”
“We want to make sure that the officers involved in this are not only getting the support through treatment…but making sure they are getting the necessary psychological help that they need directly after.”
Police Renew Appeal For Unidentified Rider – Antoine Seaman Road Fatality
News | April 30, 2019
The Bermuda Police Service (BPS) today renewed their appeal for an unidentified rider, reportedly riding with road traffic fatality victim Antoine Seaman, when he tragically lost his life in a motorcycle collision with a police vehicle.
As BPS spokesman said: “To date, the as yet unidentified motorcyclist discovered on CCTV footage riding alongside 21-year-old Antoine Seaman – just prior to the fatal collision involving a police vehicle that claimed his life, which occurred around 1:50am Monday, April 15th on Somerset Road in Sandys parish near Wilson Place – has not come forward.
“A thorough investigation continues and the Bermuda Police Service renews the urgent appeal for that rider, or anyone who knows the identity of that individual, to come forward.”
The former footballer and Somerset Cricket Club youth football team coach was laid to rest this past weekend, as family members, relatives and friends still grapple with more questions than answers looming over them, as the investigation continues.
Anyone with specific information that can assist is urged to call the investigating officer Sergeant Dorian Astwood on 247-1009 or 717-0849 at the earliest opportunity.
BTA Seals ‘Multi-Year Agreement’ To Sponsor US Open Tennis Championship
News | April 30, 2019
Tourism officials announced a new “multi-year agreement” as part of the island’s sports tourism strategy, that will see Bermuda become the exclusive tourism sponsor of the US Open Tennis Championship.
The announcement was made at a news conference held earlier today by Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) CEO, Kevin Dallas.
The new partnership with the US Tennis Association “kicks off with the 2019 US Open this summer in New York City – a top market for visitors to Bermuda.
“Benefits of this new partnership will include court signage, including the Bermuda logo, which will be visible for more than 100 hours of live television broadcast in the US, Canada and the UK in addition to more than 100 other countries,” said Mr Dallas.
The new venture allows the BTA to link and interact with more than 800,000 tennis fans who flock to Flushing, Queens to attend the two-week annual event.
“The brand story of Bermuda introducing the sport of tennis to the United States is just one example of how we punch above our weight as a small island out in the middle of the Atlantic,” he added.
“The collaboration also puts Bermuda in the cultural conversation at one of the must-see events in New York City. As summer comes to a close in the city, we will leverage this platform to invite New Yorkers to extend their summer season with active adventure out here in Bermuda.”
Mr Dallas also noted that “tennis has important historical roots in Bermuda”.
“Credited by the International Tennis Hall of Fame as the ‘Mother of American Tennis’, Mary Ewing Outerbridge (born in America to Bermudian parents) first came across the game while visiting her family’s home on the island in 1874, learning tennis from British officers stationed in Bermuda.
“She later brought tennis equipment back to New York, introducing the sport in her home borough of Staten Island.
“As summer comes to a close in the city, we will leverage this platform to invite New Yorkers to extend their summer season with active adventure out here in Bermuda,” he added.
“The addition of a custom event to take place in Bermuda that will create direct spending and provide kids clinics for developing and exposing Bermuda’s youth to tennis greatness and opportunity is icing on the cake.”
The 2019 US Open takes place from August 26 to September 8 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, New York.
The tournament’s recently-completed five-year $600 million strategic transformation provides visitors and partners more room, experiences and activations than ever before. The venue welcomed a record 828,798 attendees in 2018 over the course of the event.
Police: Man Found Dead In Car On Hidden Lane In Pembroke
News | April 30, 2019
Police confirmed that a 69-year-old man was been pronounced dead after he was found in an unresponsive state in a car this afternoon.
A spokesman said emergency services were called to the incident at a property on Hidden Lane, Pembroke around 12.40pm.
He was was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital via ambulance where he was later pronounced dead.