Residents of Denham Town in west Kingston are glad for the transformation that their community is undergoing, thanks to the establishment of a zone of special operations (ZOSO). Roadways that have been in a state of disrepair for years have been given attention, zinc fences have been coming down, residents are getting civic documents such as birth certificates, and children are no longer allowed to loiter on the roads.
Lloyd Smith, who has been living in Denham Town for more than 15 years, told THE STAR that he has seen where fewer children are on the roads at nights since the ZOSO was put in place. The near disappearance of the youngsters from the street is due to the implementation of a curfew programme for youth. A total of 24 volunteer curfew monitors have been trained, and have been working within the zone to support the youth curfew programme. Implemented under the supervision of the West Kingston Police Division, the monitors have been ensuring the youth are off the streets by 8 p.m. Smith likes this initiative.
“Certain time things gwane and we nuh wah nothing happen to the kids dem … so yea man … dem fi run dem offa the streets,” he said.
Paul Bryan is in favour of the curfew programme, but argues that it is not consistent. “Dem do it two, three day, then it’s like it lapse … . It needs to be more consistent because the kids dem pon the road a make a lot of mischief … and there’s no respect for elders,” he said.
Karen Guy is in support of the initiative.
“People walk ’round and put in the pickney dem,” she said, noting that if a child is caught outside after 8 p.m. their parents are questioned. “Is a good ting … ’cause sometimes pickney deh pon the road late and anything can happen. All my own, too, … so me glad seh dem run him in,” she continued.
Denham Town, a gritty inner-city community, was declared Jamaica’s second zone of special operations in October, 2017. Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Parliament recently that more than 20 targeted interventions have been completed, benefiting over 2,500 residents directly and over 8,000 residents indirectly. These include health services, infrastructure upgrade, education-based interventions, youth development, behaviour modification and entrepreneurship.
Romaine Dowey is one of the youngsters who has been benefiting from short-term employment. He is currently part of the ongoing road project.
“Everything a guh smooth and according to plan. It’s a better look fi the 2020 … me just a do di work and mek sure seh it a happen,” he told THE STAR.
Troy Anderson has lived in Denham Town all his life. He said that while roads have been repaired, there is much more to be done.
“Out of 10, not even five a the road dem go up to. Dis happen from last year … they dig up the roads and run the pipes from last year, and it take dem how much months to come back and fix it. Inna Denham Town, we did have one a di best set a road dem … smooth road, and dem dig dem up,” Anderson said.
Parliament was told that the infrastructure upgrade project for Denham Town involves the rehabilitation of 3.05km of roadways, installation of 6.99km of new water pipelines, upgrade to sewage and drainage systems, and the installation of fire hydrants.