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More concerns raised about decision to not extend states of emergency

Residents of Norwood in St. James, JCC President Lloyd Distant and Norman Scott, Chairman of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation
 
Residents of one of the communities currently under a State of Emergency are fearing the worst with the anti-crime measure set to end in coming weeks following the decision by the Parliamentary Opposition to withdraw support.
 
Statements of disappointment have come from various groups as the Andrew Holness administration assesses the implications of the states of emergency in St. James, the St. Catherine North Police Division and sections of the Corporate Area ending next month.
 
The Parliamentary Opposition on Tuesday night voted against resolutions for the security measures to continue.
 
RJR News visited the community of Norwood in St. James where some residents are worried about the state of emergency coming to an end.
 
One woman said the measure had caused residents to feel more safe. 
 
Another resident, a taxi operator, was concerned about what would happen when the state of emergency is lifted. 
 
He argued that the Opposition should present an alternative crime-fighting plan if it is intent on seeing the states of emergency come to an end. 
 
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) has said it is disappointed at the Opposition's decision to vote against the continuation of the states of emergency. 
 
"We believe that the state of emergency has been one of the most effective anti-crime initiatives that has been implemented thus far... St. James has seen a 72 per cent in murders and a 63 per cent reduction in shootings, for example," JCC President Lloyd Distant asserted.  
 
He noted that while concerns about the conditions of detention centres are not misplaced, the rights of other Jamaicans to a safe environment should also be taken into consideration. 
 
The Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce has also added its voice to calls for the state of emergency in St. James to continue.
 
It has urged the Houses of Parliament to approve the request by the security forces for a further three-month extension.
 
The Chamber said the measure should not be lifted without a suitable replacement.
 
Happy 
 
But despite concerns from several segments of society about the decision not to support a further extension of states of emergency, at least one person is happy that the measure will end soon. 
 
Norman Scott, Chairman of the St. Catherine Municipal Corporation, has said he is happy that the Opposition voted against an extension of the states of emergency.
 
While Mr. Scott agrees that crime is "a major problem" in Jamaica and measures to combat this issue should be supported, he does not think a state of emergency is the only tool that can be used to put a dent in criminal activities. 
 
"The police and the soldiers can be still on the streets and doing ...almost all the work that they are doing without a public state of emergency. Therefore, the government needs to act and use the tools available instead of using a public state of emergency," he contended. 
 
Mr. Scott said the State of Emergency has been too costly to businesses in St. Catherine. 


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