The Government of Jamaica has taken a number of steps, including assignment of special police foot and bicycle patrols, to enhance security in the principal resort areas. Particular care is called for at isolated villas and smaller establishments that may have fewer security arrangements. Travelers should be more cautious in unfamiliar surroundings than they are at home. In particular, valuables should not be left unattended anywhere, including at the beach.
Relatives of U.S. citizens visiting Jamaica and U.S. citizens who are prisoners in Jamaica have received telephone calls from people alleging that they are Jamaican police officers or other public officials. The callers state that the visitor or prisoner has had trouble and needs financial help. The caller states that money should be sent to the caller who will assist the visitor or prisoner. Money is sent, but fails to reach U.S. citizens in need. U.S. citizens who receive calls such as these should contact the American Citizen Services Unit of the Embassyís Consular Section at 1 (876) 935-6044 for assistance in confirming the validity of the call.
Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost thousands of dollars or more. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
Safety of Public Transportation: poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: poor
Drivers and pedestrians should constantly recall that driving in Jamaica is on the left-hand side of the road. Travelers who use taxicabs should take only licensed taxicabs having red-and-white "PP" license plates. As of November 1999 drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts and motorcycle riders are required to wear helmets. A number of U.S. citizens who have rented motorbikes have been seriously injured, often because the rider was not wearing a helmet. Extreme caution should be used in driving motorbikes on unfamiliar roads.
Roadblocks occasionally used by residents to draw attention to particular issues, and street dances that draw large crowds and effectively block traffic, require extreme caution by drivers.
For specific information concerning Jamaican driverís permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the Embassy of Jamaica web site.
According to a 1996 report by the Natural Resources Conservation Authority, after heavy rains, pollutant levels at Walter Fletcher Beach in Montego Bay and Turtle Beach and Sailorís Hole Beach in Ocho Rios, can exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards.
Some street vendors and taxi drivers in tourist areas are known to confront and harass tourists to buy their wares or employ their services. If a firm "no thank you" does not solve the problem, visitors may wish to seek the assistance of a tourist police officer.
The Consular Agency in Montego Bay is located at St. James Place, 2nd Floor, Gloucester Avenue, telephone (876) 952-0160.
Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. The U.S. Embassy also has consular responsibility for the Cayman Islands, a British dependent territory (refer to the British West Indies Consular Information Sheet for additional information). The Consular Agency in George Town, Grand Cayman is located in the office of Adventure Travel, Seven-Mile Beach, telephone 1 (345) 946-1511; fax 1 (345) 945-1811; Internet e-mail: consulus@candwky. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Monday-Friday.
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