Residents ready to rebuild Mount Salem
By the time the security forces leave Mount Salem, St James at the end of October, many residents would have accessed various social services, which the Government hopes will help them become better citizens.
Omar Sweeney, the man who is leading efforts to improve the social amenities available to the residents, told WESTERN STAR that the Social Intervention Committee is currently reviewing information collected from residents at a two-day fair last weekend.
Residents who have been living without birth certificates or identification cards are set to get such documents shortly.
Sweeney, the managing director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), said it is typical for vulnerable and volatile communities to be affected by issues such as joblessness, lack of skills and the lack of proper documentation.
While the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) has a focus on catching criminals and recovering weapons, it also has a social component.
During the 60 days that the security forces are in the community, the main focus will be placed on clearing the area of the undesirables, also considered the 'hold' period.
"The 'hold' and the 'build' period do not have timelines attached. The build area will go on for as long as it takes for the community to have the necessary structures and ability to solve their own problems," Sweeney said. "Once we have re-established government services and presence within these communities ... the community can act independently to do the things that they need to do."
Meanwhile, Heroy Clarke, Member of Parliament for Central St James where Mount Salem falls, said that social intervention programmes to be introduced in Mount Salem and adjoining areas will play a major role in positively transforming the community.
He said discussions have been ongoing with the various state agencies, with a view to providing opportunities for the citizens and that efforts will be made to ramp up the pace at which the services are offered.
Mount Salem was on September 1 declared the first Zone of Special Operations 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.
State Minister in the Ministry of National Security Senator Pearnel Charles, Jr said he is pleased with the support given to the ZOSO community services fair by residents, state agencies and corporate partners.
"The support is a demonstration of 'joined-up government' and is exactly what was promised to the community. You have JSIF, CDA, HEART, Members of Parliament from the parish and persons from the opposition. This is what we want ... for Jamaicans to feel they are all participants in developing this community. I am so encouraged by the response," he said.