Declare a state of emergency, Mr Prime Minister

November 17, 2017
Soldiers talk with a resident in Denham Town, west Kingston, during ZOSO operations recently.
A resident of Regent Street is searched by a policeman in Denham Town, Kingston, recently.
Jamaica's Prime Minister Andrew Holness

I don't want to sound like an alarmist or anything, but is it time for Prime Minister Andrew Holness to declare a state of emergency and have the security forces take a stand against the spate of murders rocking the island?

Jamaica is on pace to exceed 1,600 murders this year, and Montego Bay, which was once considered the tourism capital of the country, is now the murder capital of the world. Per capita, MoBay currently has more murders per 100,000 persons than any other city in the world.

The city and the north coast are the bread of butter of the island's tourism, but over the past few years the area has become a murder zone. Not a day goes by when there is not a story of people getting gunned down in the Second City. It's like a bloodbath. Similarly, the once peaceful parishes of Hanover and Trelawny have seen the number of violent crimes skyrocket.

I find it hard to believe that a peaceful parish like Hanover has seen almost 100 murders this year.

And while the murders are spiralling, I completely understand that the Government does not want to bring unnecessary attention to our problem. Jamaica still depends heavily on tourist arrivals. Tourism provides the bulk of the jobs along the north coast, and nobody wants to do anything to scare visitors away. But there has to come a time when prudence takes precedence over expediency.

Initiatives like the Zones of Special Operations are laudable, but as a friend of mine recently posted on his Facebook page, 'all of Jamaica should be a Zone of Special Operations', and I must add that it is time we sought international support to make such a broad-scale initiative a reality.




The Government clearly does not have the resources to take on all the hotspots at the same time. St James, Hanover, Clarendon and east Kingston are all areas that need specific attention, and there is only so much that the military and a disgruntled police force are going to be able to do.

The Chinese have been very 'good' to us in recent years, building our highways and such, so maybe we should ask them to loan us a few thousand members of their military and have them help us devise ways to curb the spate of the gun violence that is claiming about four lives a day.

They could also help us patrol our porous borders from where thousands of high-powered weapons and hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition are flooding into the island and into the hands of the thousands of idle youth on the island.

So, maybe it's time, Mr Prime Minister, to declare a state of emergency because if what is happening now is not being considered an emergency; I don't know what would be.

Send comments to

Other Commentary Stories