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PM Holness not ready to lift Mt Salem ZOSO

Published:Friday | November 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMAlbert Ferguson
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right) greets a young resident of Mount Salem in St James during a tour of the zone of special operations in that community. Looking on is Marlene Malahoo-Forte, Member of Parliament for West Central St James where the community is located.


Despite not recording a single murder since the declaration of a zone of special operations (ZOSO) in September 2017, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the Mount Salem community in St James is not where he wants it to be in terms of sustained stability.

"We want to see peace. We want to see peace in the lives of the people," Holness told participants in a town-hall meeting in Montego Bay, St James, last Thursday. "There can be no prosperity without peace, so the people of Mount Salem they are experiencing a period of quiet, but I wouldn't call it peace as yet."

During a period of intense gang violence in September 2017, Holness declared the nation's first ZOSO in Mount Salem, answering the call the stakeholders in Montego Bay, who were crying out for a restoration of peace and good order across the western city.

"There are many issues to be addressed in that community," said Holness. "We have started on many of them. The next phase now is to deal with their land-settlement issues, their titling, to give them permanency in the assets that they own."


Wardens of their own Peace


According to the prime minister, once the social-intervention measures begin to have the desired impact, the community will be encouraged to be the wardens of its own peace.

"We want them to be able to look to their neighbour and say, 'Don't do that', without fear that the neighbour is going to go for a gun and do something illegal to them," said Holness. "Once we reach to that point, then we know that there can be peace, and the peace is going to be maintained by the citizens. That is what we are targeting," added Holness.

Under the social-intervention arm of the ZOSO, several government agencies, led by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, have been providing healthcare services, birth certificates, and back-to-school grants for the residents of the community.

Dilapidated zinc fences were removed and replaced with more appealing concrete fencing built by members of the community who were trained in masonry and construction as part of the community's social-intervention programme.

Several roads in the community have been rehabilitated under the guidance of the National Works Agency, which has also done the cleaning of all drains and gullies in the community.