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Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter

  • Down with the fences

In what has been deemed a success story of the social arm of the Zone of Special Operations in Mt. Salem, St. James, 100 community members will be employed and $26 million spent to remove 1000 metres of corrugated zinc fences, to be replaced with ‘A’ class concrete walls, in sections of the community.

This was announced on Thursday evening by Omar Sweeney, Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, JSIF, at a contract signing at the Mount Salem Primary School between the Jamaica Social Investment Fund and the Mount Salem Benevolent Society.

“This project will be implemented over a nine-month period, utilizing the community-based contracting methodology, which will see the Mt. Salem Community Development Benevolent Society Committee acting as project managers. This approach will help to strengthen community leadership and empower community members to have a stake in maintaining the infrastructure of their community.”

He said the project is being implemented under the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Measure and should have a positive impact on community safety and aesthetic development for more than 4-thousand residents of Mount Salem.

The 100 community members to be employed under the programme were trained in block-making and tiling under the ZOSO initiative implemented in the community.

Mr. Sweeney said under the social component of the ZOSO, thousands of residents would have benefitted from medical and dental checks, birth certificate processing, clean up and drainage programmes.

He also announced that similar zinc fence removal projects would be pursued in Granville, and Retirement in St. James and Russia in Westmoreland.

Winsome Barnes, President of the Mt. Salem Benevolent Society, says she was pleased that residents were receiving some benefit under the social programmes of the ZOSO, arguing that the Benevolent Society was willing to collaborate with the various social agencies.

“We are working together in a major collaborative effort to ensure that Mount Salem continues to be the place to work, raise, families and do business. We are happy for this particular project, which incorporates the community in such a way that residents are actively involved, so we look forward to continued efforts to improve the community.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police, Donald Graham, said the removal of the zinc fence was a good thing as the zinc fence, in many instances, impeded crime-fighting as criminal elements often use them as part of their getaway strategy.

“They often run behind these zinc fences eight to ten feet high and disappear.  In other times, these fences offer no protection to you the resident because they are porous.  I urge you to give the removal your support as it will improve your protection and add aesthetic appeal to the community.

ACP Graham also indicated that for the 274 days of the Zone of Special Operation, there were no reports of violent acts in Mount Salem.

The Zone of Special Operation was introduced in Mount Salem on September 1last year.


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