Thursday, June 30, 2005


A Cat and mouse tale

I have regular email exchanges with a chap from the UK who often visits St. Helena. He wrote me a little tale, to which I have added some observations:

The story:

Next time my wife and myself step foot on St. Helena we intend to bring a car with us. We are looking for a suitable new car. After all it will have to last a nice couple of years. My wife [who likes driving - I don't] set her heart on a Mini-Cooper. Plenty of umph to get up the inclines, small enough to easily get around the corners.

It runs,of course, on unleaded petrol. I checked on the availability in SH, now or in the future, of unleaded petrol. Only Lead Replacement Petrol is available and no change in the foreseeable future, was the prompt reply to my e-mail. Checking back with a technical chap at the Mini-Cooper sales office on the consequences of using LRP instead of unleaded my enquiry was met with a gasp of incredulity. Totally out of the question and the alterations required to make it possible would be prohibitively expensive. All through this I could not believe no new cars are imported in St. Helena. No new cars designed for LRP have been made since 1993.

I checked a few island sources but could not get a definitive answer until I received the following information ....

You are correct in saying that in St. Helena cars run only on Lead Replacement Petrol but I have been informed that although the majority of cars now imported into St. Helena should use Unleaded Petrol, they do not have a choice but to use the LRP.

I was further informed that because cars are not using the correct petrol, the only thing likely to be ruined is the converter which, sometimes, does not last any longer than 5 years. So it would seem that there would be no problem in your bringing a new car but bring along a [catalytic] converter.

So, now I go back to the Mini-Cooper sales people and give them some tuition on the ways of people who live in those parts of the world which are set back from the global highways and check the cost of a spare catalytic converter - assuming one is necessary in the first place.

My comments:

Everyone runs their car on LRP and ignores the fact that the Cat will be ruined.

Empirical evidence suggests that there are no emissions regulations on St. Helena. If there are, they are evidently not rigidly enforced. Smog is hardly likely to be a problem here, with the ever-present trade winds. So a non-functioning Cat is not a problem.

It also doesn't have any noticeable effect on the performance, but then nobody here ever gets a car much above 40mph anyway so you wouldn't be able to tell

To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever tried to export a car from St. Helena, so the need for a new Cat doesn't arise.

If you are thinking of importing a car, the main characteristics you require are:

Also avoid anything with a computerised 'engine management system'. If it can't be fixed with a screwdriver and a monkey wrench it's too technical for St. Helena. Someone brought an Audi A4 here and it spent nine months of its first year in the garage because they couldn't reboot the engine computer. They never did get the "emergency engine alert - stop driving now" message to go away. It's for sale, by the way ...

I hope that helps.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Chartered Accountant Needed in Small Sub-Tropical Island

To develop for the new post-Airport economy St. Helena desperately needs a local accountancy 'firm'. By the scale of things here, that would be one chartered accountant and several CAT-qualified assistants.

Although I can't put out an official job offer, it would look something like this:

What you need:

What you get:

Any volunteers?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


On the box

Someone asked me about local television:

There are three TV channels available here, as follows:

Channel 1: Shared between 'M-Net' and 'Series'.
Channel 2: SuperSport
Channel 3: BBC / 'Discovery'.

What follows is a personal opinion on their content:

3: 'BBC Prime' alternates with 'BBC World' during the day and evening, and 'Discovery' is on from 11pm until early morning. The island therefore has well-informed moths. 'BBC Prime' features all the trashiest output BBC television has to offer. If you like soap opera, cheap sit-coms, and lacklustre "dramas", based in hospitals or in police situations, you'll love it. 'BBC World' is the World Service with pictures.

2: I don't watch sport so I can only report what I hear: it would be OK if they didn't frequently switch over from the match you are watching to something else before the final whistle, so you never find out who won. On the odd occasion I have switched over to Channel 2 they have always been showing Golf.

1: 'M-Net' is for those who find 'BBC Prime' too intellectually challenging. 'Series' is for those who find 'M-Net' too intellectually challenging.

There are many good things about St. Helena. Television isn't one of them.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Universal disenfranchisement

The St. Helena Government has just changed the electoral constituencies (of which there were 8) and created two new constituencies - East and West. The reasons behind this are immaterial to this posting, but the impact is quite dramatic – universal disenfranchisement.

This remarkable achievement results from the fact that the electoral registration was completed a few weeks ago under the old constituency definitions, and the electoral legislation states that a voter can only vote in the constituency in which they are registered. As these no longer exist, nobody can vote.

There isn’t time to re-register all the voters before the next elections, so the obvious solution cannot be implemented.


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