Saturday 7 December, 2019

'Zone of Special Operations won’t affect students for back-to-school'

Prime Minister Andrew Holness greets a girl in Mt Salem, St James during a tour of the area, which was declared the first Zone of Special Operations.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness greets a girl in Mt Salem, St James during a tour of the area, which was declared the first Zone of Special Operations.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) established in Mt Salem, St James will not deter children from getting to school on Monday.

“But, I am encouraging all parents to take extra care to ensure that they [children] get an early start for back-to-school, Holness said at a press conference after touring sections of Mt Salem on Sunday.

At the same time, all students in the ZOSO are expected to have a school ID.

“If they don’t have an ID, they will be allowed a high degree of flexibility in entry and exit, providing that they are in uniform. So we are urging parents to ensure their children are in uniform,” Holness said.

Additionally, a special fund will be set up to assist parents to purchase identification cards from schools, the prime minister advised.

Concurrently, Holness has encouraged residents to get some form of identification, following complaints that the ID requirement, which governs movement in and out of the zone is difficult.

Holness tours Mt Salem

He said, having received feedback, ground commanders will exercise greater discretion re IDs and entry/exit into zone.

Holness also announced the government’s first social intervention programme for the community next weekend to help persons obtain an ID, obtain health services and become informed of various social and vocational programmes.  

“We will have the RGD, the PICA, EOJ and representatives from the tax office issuing TRNs. The SDC and HEART will also be on the ground along with various health services,” Holness said.

He added: “So it will be a massive undertaking, but I think [it’s] an important one in bringing the community together.”

The first ZOSO under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act was established last Friday in Mt Salem.

The decision to declare Mt Salem as the first zone was based on police statistics, which show that the area is a major crime hotspot.

The zone will operate for 60 days.

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