PEOPLE’S National Party (PNP) caretaker for the Kingston Central constituency, Imani Duncan-Price said yesterday she is angry that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has failed to implement a zone of special operations (ZOSO) in crime-plagued areas within the space but has instead declared one in Norwood, St James.
On Sunday morning the prime minister called an emergency press conference at Jamaica House during which he declared the Norwood ZOSO, to the surprise of stakeholders in the Kingston Central constituency.
Holness and Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson said there would be an increase in the number of security forces personnel on the ground in some areas of Kingston Central. However, Duncan-Price said such a move only serves to “short-change” residents of the constituency who are suffering from an upsurge in violence.
According to the police commissioner, eight of the main gang players from Kingston Central have been arrested and about 10 firearms and 100 rounds of ammunition seized. “We are in there and we continue our work with the community to [address the issues as much] as possible.”
Duncan-Price, however, lamented that just having more boots on the ground won’t be as effective as a ZOSO.
“I am just angry! In certain communities there has been an increase in the number of soldiers and police on the ground in parts of Southside and Tel Aviv, but it is not sufficient. On Saturday night, the day before Father’s Day, two fathers were taken out. One of them was on Thompson Street and one on Elletson Road in the Price Lane area. The one on Price Lane received around 16 gunshots in an area he usually goes to buy food. Both murders hurt me, but that one hurts me in particular because only earlier this year we had given his son, who goes to St George’s College, a tablet for his schoolwork. He is 14 years old,” said Duncan-Price.
“I hear what they say about increased boots on the ground but we haven’t seen it in every area. It is the kind of situation where if there are areas that are unmanned, persons will make their move and take out people in the most violent ways. We are compelled to keep pressing for a ZOSO. We should be protesting again on Tuesday near Parliament until every community that is under abuse and warfare see the numbers required. We are also demanding social investment,” she said.
She added that it was appalling to know that two divisions in Kingston– Kingston Central and Kingston Eastern – had racked up an almost similar number of murders in comparison to the entire parish of St James, where Norwood is located, since the start of the year. Up to yesterday St James accounted for 79 murders. In Kingston Central there were 36 murders and 42 in Kingston Eastern, a tally of 78.
“Two little divisions in one little city has almost the same number of murders as one entire parish and you go to that little spot only? I am not saying you shouldn’t go to Norwood, they need protection as well, but why there and not the communities of Central Kingston? The violence in Central Kingston was on the increase since last year September. Between last year September and now you couldn’t plan something? We call upon them to consider, very quickly, appropriate interventions. I started calling for a ZOSO in January; once again we implore the prime minister to give the people of the communities across central Kingston a ZOSO, with boots on the ground and social investment.”
PNP caretaker for the Rae Town Division, Jennifer Newman said yesterday that any measure implemented other than a ZOSO will only last a short moment. She called for a more sustained and targeted approach, accompanied by proper social intervention.
“We heard of a ZOSO in Norwood, but we heard nothing about Central Kingston. Certain measures only last for a certain period of time while a ZOSO would be more permanent,” Newman told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Attempts to get comments from Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Rae Town Division, Rosalea Hamilton and Member of Parliament for Kingston Central, Donovan Williams were futile.
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