Fri | Nov 17, 2017

ZOSO lull in Mount Salem - Residents await social intervention benefits

Published:Wednesday | September 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMAdrian Frater
Security forces carrying out their duties within the zone of special operations of Mount Salem, St James, yesterday.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Residents of the Mount Salem community in Montego Bay, St James, who had mistakenly thought that the zone of special operations (ZOSO) initiative had been lifted on Monday night, after some of the barriers that were erected on Friday were suddenly removed, woke up to find the barriers back in place yesterday morning.

"They (soldiers and police) had packed up the barriers and left and everyone felt that the ZOSO was over," said Roy Reid, a resident of the community. "However, when we woke up this morning, the barriers were back in place and the soldiers and police back at the checkpoints."

Shortly after the barriers were removed, a tweet from the ZOSO command centre, stated, "The curfew order expires today (Monday) and we are transitioning to cordons. ZOSO remains in place."

When The Gleaner visited the community yesterday, the general atmosphere was much more relaxed than during the previous four days. There was also a noticeable reduction in the number of police and military personnel, and some lanes that previously had checkpoints had none.

 

NOT ANGRY WITH PRIME MINISTER

 

The controversy as to whether Prime Minister Andrew Holness was provided with flawed data that caused him to label the community as tailor-made for ZOSO was again quite topical among the residents.

"We are not angry with the prime minister; he was a victim of fake news," said businessman Barrington Smith. "But since the soldiers and police are already here, he could just instruct them to move to the next phase of ZOSO, which is to start work on rebuilding the community."

Interestingly, some of the residents said they were not surprised that no guns or ammunition have been found, despite the incentives the prime minister has offered to provide information on illegal guns, ammunition and explosives.

"It would appear that the thugs got advance notice, because they have simply disappeared since Friday," a resident told The Gleaner. "It is a pity that they did not take their mothers and sisters with them so that they would have no need to come back."

Prior to Holness' incentive announcement, Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, who heads the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Corporate Communications Unit, admitted that while several knives were seized and one wanted man taken into custody, no guns or ammunition were found.

adrian.frater@gleanerjm.com