KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 2, CMC – The House of Representatives has approved a further 60-day extension of the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in seven areas across Jamaica.
They are Denham Town, West Kingston; Norwood and Mount Salem, St. James; Greenwich Town, Parade Gardens and August Town in St. Andrew, and Savanna-la-Mar, in Westmoreland.
According to statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, as of January 27, for the period prior to and during the declaration of the respective ZOSOs, all areas under the ZOSO recorded reductions in all major crimes, including murder.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang, informed that the first ZOSO was declared in Mount Salem in September 2017, while noting that this Zone is currently in the Build Phase.
“All planned activities remain on target with over 95 per cent of developments in the advanced state of completion. There are no significant challenges currently, and the Mount Salem ZOSO is at the apex of its overall development,” he said.
Similarly, Denham Town is at the build phase of the strategy with more than $450 million invested, to date.
Dr. Chang said given the advanced development status of the Denham Town Zone, activities are largely aligned to completing activities towards the sustainable development of the community.
The Greenwich Town ZOSO is at an advanced stage of development.
Among the completed interventions are road rehabilitation works along 7.1 kilometres (km) of roadway in the community, water improvement – 800 water laterals installed to allow for household connections, Zinc fence substitution – 778 metres of zinc fence substituted with concrete, rehabilitation of the St Andrew Primary School, and entrepreneurial support for businesses in the community (18 entrepreneurs).
In the August Town Zone, Minister Chang said while significant work has been completed, there remains a list of planned projects to support the community that are at various stages of development.
“Given the need for extensive infrastructure development in August Town, a number of initiatives will be coming on-stream to further support the buildout of the community,” Dr. Chang said.
These include an infrastructure improvement project to rehabilitate and construct 2.7 km of roadway, Enterprise Development Project supporting more than 25 microenterprises, solid waste management programme, rehabilitation of the Hope Valley Experimental and August Town Primary Schools, and skills training.
For the Norwood ZOSO, Dr. Chang said the pace of activities slowed during the most recent extension.
He noted that Norwood is undergoing significant buildout of much-needed infrastructure, including rehabilitation of roads and water supplies.
“Some $300 million in approved projects are to be implemented in the community. These investments are projected to be implemented over the next 12 to 24 months,” Dr. Chang said.
Meanwhile, the Parade Gardens ZOSO is still at the pre-development phase, with activities largely focused on identifying community needs for prioritisations.
“The Zone has not yet transitioned to the build phase; hence, the development planning process, which is being led by the Social Intervention Committee, remains focused on the formulation and identification of fiscal space to support the buildout, once the Zone goes into the build phase,” Dr. Chang said.
In the interim, several short-term human development interventions have been executed to include civic documentation (birth certificates), community clean-up initiative (Jamaica 60), community services fair, and improvement of the main arterial road in the community.
Like Parade Gardens, the Savanna-la-Mar ZOSO remains in the pre-development phase.
Dr. Chang pointed out that the data confirm that ZOSOs are contributing to a reduction of risk factors, increasing the capacity and competencies of the residents, and improving the prospects of the beneficiaries.
“The Zones of Special Operations have demonstrated their utility in improving the overall social welfare and safety of the residents of these challenged communities. To stop now would be premature. We must, therefore, continue, so that the safety and security of these residents can be truly and fully realised,” he emphasised.