MoBay Chamber boss says SOE alone won’t work
While lauding the success of the ongoing state of public emergency (SOE) in curbing the runaway lawlessness which was plaguing St James, Winston Lawson, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is still batting for meaningful social intervention programmes, which he thinks are badly needed.
“Social intervention is one of those activities that must be encouraged, particularly for this space (Montego Bay),” said Lawson, who was speaking at last Thursday’s launch of the 2019 edition of the Montego Bay Jerk and Food Festival in the western city.
“While we have seen the phenomenal progress of this great city (Montego Bay), the fastest-growing city in the Caribbean, and showing its potential for even greater accomplishments, we are also faced with challenges which no SOE can fix.” added Lawson.
Commenting on the many social concerns troubling Montego Bay, and, by extension, the wider St James, Lawson said social intervention programmes could change the mindset of residents, which will be crucial if the city is to move forward in realising its full potential.
“The SOE is not a fix to our crime problem, it is just an important measure to contain [the] out-of-control crime problem and, thankfully, for us in Montego Bay, it has proven to be effective in doing just that,” the chamber president said.
Lawson believes the restoration of order, which the SOE is designed to achieve, should be used as the catalyst to create an environment for sustainable law and order so that when the crime-fighting initiative expires, residents would have moved on from the conditions, which currently encourage lawlessness.
“During the period of the measure (SOE) and after this period, we must redouble our effort at social intervention,” declared Lawson.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced a 14-day SOE in St James, Westmoreland and Hanover on April 30 owing to a resurgence in crime, particularly in the Second City. The SOE was subsequently extended by Parliament for three months.