From Contributor: Errol McLeish
With the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, slowly loosening in Jamaica, criminals, who were seemingly in hibernation, have emerged hungrier than they were before the restrictions and have not only continued where they have left off, before the restrictions, but have become deadlier, and even more efficient at killing, and creating mayhem.
One would wish to downplay, the origin and effects of these nefarious acts of violence, by citing that these events are gang-related and that it is restricted mostly to the inner city areas and therefore it would not reflect too badly on the entire island.
The reality is quite the contrary. Wherever crime escalates on the island, the world does not view the outcome in isolation of the other parts of Jamaica. This unfortunate situation has put Jamaica in a rather undesirable position and has raised its profile on the negative index in the global community. This certainly is not a good sign for a country that depends on tourism for its survival.
Part of the problem, in Jamaica, is that there are elected officials who have made outlandish and unrealistic promises in the past, to solve the crime problems, by giving the impression that the problem can be solved by the turn of a switch. The present Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, in a speech leading up to the last general elections, told party followers in a meeting that was later televised, that if he was elected he would ensure that people could sleep with their doors open.
Since being elected, Mr. Holness has not done enough to address the spiraling crime problems. It has escalated exponentially under his watch. Criminals have staged daylight robberies, armed with high powered weapons, staged incursions on communities, killing at will, while creating mayhem.
In response to this, the PM sought to implement operational options such as Zones of Special operation and State of Public Emergency, which initially saw some reduction in crime, this was short-lived as the criminals found ways to elude the security forces.
The opposition Peoples National Party (PNP) has not given any indication that they are ready as an alternative, with new ideas. Their opposition spokesman on national security, Fitz Jackson seems only to be awakened when there is a fumbled misstep by the government, with kne- jerk responses that only criticize instead of offering alternative solutions.
So, for those looking for solutions & options, Jackson and the PNP has certainly not presented themselves and viable options.
The solution to Jamaica’s problem is complex. It requires long term and short term planning to address the deep-seated socio-economic and crime problems that have haunted it over the years. Part of the litany of factors that makes it troubling is absentee fathers, limited opportunities available for the ordinary man to progress, high education cost, making it out of reach for many aspirants.
If that’s not bad enough, a country that’s heavily influenced by the happenings in the United States has found itself trying to deal with the bad habits of its citizen, illegal importation of guns, an influx of deportees, some of whom are hardened criminals, who are used to a certain lifestyle which involves violence and fierce confrontation with authorities.
We have seen it in recent times with the killing of three brave police officers, in one event, which has never happened in the history of Jamaica. These elements and more have contributed to a fertile cocktail concoction that could cause a small island like Jamaica to implode. Indeed, the list is long, and therefore a silver bullet solution to address these issues is certainly unrealistic.
The upshot, to be fair to the government, has been certain attempts to ameliorate and mitigate the hemorrhaging bad states of affairs.
The introduction of the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) operations have helped mop up the excess unemployment, there have also been some attempts to address the source of some of the social problems in Jamaica by the implementation of social programs. But the bugbear that is at the heart of the problem and keeps haunting Jamaica, is violent crimes.
Only when this is controlled will Jamaica be on the path to progress. Jamaicans should hope that the party that forms the next government, will indeed get it right, the country’s hopes for survival depends on a workable solutions.
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Mister Errol McLeish may be reached at Email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @ermarlii16