Inner-city violence threatens sustainable development – Davis
WHILE SEVERAL steps have been taken to pave the way towards Montego Bay becoming a sustainable city, former mayor Homer Davis, now a minister of state in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, says crime and violence continue to be a threat to the process.
“Jamaica, like many other countries in the Caribbean and the world at large, has been bombarded with the issues of crime, violence, injustice, inequity, insecurity, and corruption,” said Davis, who was speaking recently at the first Caribbean Sustainable Cities Conference, which was hosted by The University of the West Indies Mona, Western Jamaica Campus. “Those factors are major contributors to low levels of economic growth and threaten the achievement of inclusive and sustainable development.”
Montego Bay, which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, having received city status by an act of Parliament in 1981, is arguably the fastest-growing city in the Caribbean. It is home to some 19 squatter settlements, which emerged due to a shortage of housing solutions to meet its workforce.
“The inner-city communities are perhaps the number one hotspot for crime and violence. We all should know the characteristics of these communities: zinc fences, high population density, improper dwellings, loss of identity and belongingness,” he said.
Davis added: “We need a very focused and pointed effort from all stakeholders in supporting the work of the security forces and the justice system in their push to ensure peace, security, and safety,” said Davis, albeit recognising that all developments must be done with the people in mind, ensuring that Jamaica transition into a truly sustainable, just, and equitable future, said Davis, whose portfolio covers rural development and municipal police officers.
Davis, who was fully supportive of the decision to have St James placed under states of public emergency and the zones of special operations in Mt Salem, described the two security initiatives as critical tools in the quest to bring order to the society.
Meanwhile, Bishop Conrad Pitkin, custos of St James, who also spoke at the conference, said young people are being left behind as a result of globalisation, even as the vexed issue of crime and violence continues to plague law-abiding citizens.
“Our cities are also plagued with crime and violence which requires a new level of thinking and application to address this monster,” said Pitkin, who also heads the Jamaica Umbrella Group of Churches. “Our cities are fast developing in economic and social enterprises, and the deepening of globalisation has created opportunities for some people but profound challenges for others, including our young people who are struggling to find work.”