LLOYD B. SMITH, the member of parliament (MP) for Central St James, wants the Government to enact a law specifically directed at criminals who prey upon and burglarise schools and community centres.
Smith, who was a noted Montego Bay-based publisher prior to entering representational politics, made his position known while addressing Sunday's official opening of the new Farm Heights/Rose Heights Homework Centre, which is located on the grounds of the Farm Heights Community Centre in Montego Bay.
"One of the problems that we have in Jamaica today is that very often we have certain miscreants, hooligans and criminals who plague schools and community centres," said Smith. "Practically every evening when we watch the news on TV, we see where a school or a community centre has been burgled; computers have been stolen and refrigerators looted."
The new homework centre, which was constructed at a cost of J$2.5 million, became operational on January 9 this year as an outreach project by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC).
"As a parliamentarian and as a community activist, I am very concerned about this, and one of the things I intend to do during my life in Parliament is to move for legislation that will be specially designed to punish those persons who are responsible for vandalising community centres and our educational institutions," added Smith.
Need to send signal
He implored residents of Farm Heights and Rose Heights to take good care of the new homework facility and not to allow criminals a free hand with it.
"I do believe that, as a country, we need to send a signal to those persons who vandalise institutions such as this. We must make them pay the price in one way or another," Smith reiterated.
Kelly Tomblin, JPS's president and CEO, said the homework centre is the third such project the company has undertaken. The previous two are in Kingston and Old Harbour, St Catherine.
"This one is even more special," said Tomblin. "It brings together what we're passionate about right now ... a partnership. It brings together the SDC, JPS and the two communities working together to make it happen."
The new homework centre caters to 86 students from the basic to high-school levels, and is equipped with computers and Internet access.