Stakeholders welcome extension of SOE in the west

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Thursday, July 25, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Stakeholders here have welcomed the extension of the state of emergency (SOE) for the western parishes of St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland, for another three months.

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to extend the SOE in those parishes in which it was implemented on April 30. (See related story on Page 5).

Chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund Godfrey Dyer, in his keynote address at the media launch of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2019 Expo at the S Hotel in the resort city yesterday, said the SOE should remain in force until crime is reduced.

“I am one of those people who want to see the state of emergency stay until crime is brought down to a tolerable level,” Dyer stressed.

Dyer, in making his case, made reference to an interview done last week with Commissioner of police Major Antony Anderson, who noted that murders in Jamaica are among the highest in the world.

He also reiterated the commissioner's statement that the police force, as is, cannot cope with the rate of murders without the assistance of the army.

“Therefore, he (Anderson) needs the state of emergency while he builds the organisation's strength and the other necessities for the force,” said Dyer, adding that “this is going to take time, probably a year or more”.

President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry Janet Silvera told reporters after the function that until a further meeting is held with her directors and the business community, the chamber currently supports the Government's move.

“As president of the chamber, I don't think that the onus is on me to come here and speak on my own. I would have to meet with our directors...and decide whether or not we would want to go into another year of SOE. We also would want to speak to the business community to find out whether or not this is something that they would want to see happen. But, right now, we are supporting the Government in relation to the extension of another three months,” argued the chamber president.

Silvera, who was recently installed as president of the more than seven-decades-old organisation, said the chamber was concerned about the level of crime in St James. As a result, she said, the Government and all stakeholders must come together to find a solution.

“The Government needs to put us all around a table — the chamber of commerce, the PSOJ (Private Sector Organisations of Jamaica), the JMEA (Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association), the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce — to come together and find solutions to crime,” the chamber president said.

Silvera pointed out, however, that the solution to crime cannot only be the responsibility of Government.

“The solution to the crime problem can't be done by the Government alone. It has to be done through combined effort. Every single one of us has to understand that it is affecting all of us and that we must help to find that solution,” she urged.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his address to the House of Representatives on Tuesday, noted that since the implementation of the states of public emergency over the period April 30 to July 21, murders and shootings in the parish of St James have reduced by 40 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively, when compared to February 5, 2019 to April 28, 2019, prior to the declaration.


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