Infrastructure upgrading in Mount Salem 70 per cent complete

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

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THE Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) Social Intervention Committee is reporting that infrastructure upgrading in Mount Salem, St James, is advanced.

Deputy chairman of the committee, Omar Sweeney, said that 70 per cent of work under the 'build phase' of the operation has been completed to date.

“The drainage system, the road improvement, the zinc fence removal [and], the solid waste infrastructure and collection are going well,” he said.

This year, he said, special focus is being placed on rehabilitating the Mount Salem Primary and Infant School and upgrading of the Mount Salem Police Station.

The facilities, he said, are “important community assets that we have deemed are going to be necessary for the completion of our build phase”.

Mount Salem was declared the first ZOSO in September 1, 2017, in order to tackle crime in the area, and since then, the community has benefited from transformational activities is keeping with a clear, hold and build strategy.

The first task is to clear the gangs' and criminals' presence from the area, then hold those areas by maintaining a strong, continuous police presence to provide reassurance and security, and to prevent the gangs from returning. The third task involves multi-sectoral intervention to address critical human needs and provide basic infrastructure.

Sweeney, who is also managing director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), said the ongoing social intervention strategies continue to bear fruit, with continued engagement of residents in sports and recreational programmes and academic advancement through training.

“I would say things are going good. The security reports have been positive and so we continue to be encouraged by that,” he added.

In the meantime, at least two community groups have hailed the ZOSO in Mount Salem, stating that it has been maintaining the peace in the community and has helped to improve the aesthetics of the area.

President of the Mount Salem Community Development Committee Benevolent Society, Winsome Barnes, said that the intervention has brought persons together, and community groups are working to effect positive changes.

She said that a number of residents have had their electricity and water regularised, while others have been afforded an opportunity to tap into business development and skills training support.

“It has opened up the community to access more assistance. We are now on the JSIF listing, so any proposal or things that (are) out there, persons from within the community groups and organisation can apply.

“We had the National Water Commission (NWC) in the community getting persons regularised. If persons follow the process, certain bills will be written off. This is good for the community, as more residents will become paying customers of the NWC. You also have the Jamaica Public Service coming in and trying to fix the power lines,” she notes.

“We have not had any incidents [of crime] in the community during this period and that is something that we want to maintain. We have also built relationships with members of the security forces,” said Barnes.

At the same time, director and founder of the community group Women of Destiny, Olivia Shaw, said the ZOSO has created a peaceful environment and residents feel more secure.

“The community has really progressed. As a born-and-bred resident, I have never experienced the community in such a peaceful and tranquil environment. No matter the time of night, there are persons present and there is no loud or boisterous (behaviour); it is just a difference,” she said.

In lauding the transformational measures instituted under the ZOSO, Shaw said a number of lives have been positively impacted.

“The social aspect of the ZOSO has really developed the community to let persons recognise that when they have such a presentable environment, even their behaviour can evolve. We got the road repairs and the fencing done, so I think it has given them a boost of confidence. We take pride in bringing persons into our environment now,” Shaw said.

She noted that residents have benefited from job and health fairs and have been provided with proper documentation, including national identification, to better enable them to seek employment.

The ZOSO was declared under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, which seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives.

Denham Town in Kingston is the other community where a ZOSO is in place.


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