It is clear that the run-away incidence of Covid 19 in Jamaica is grave but anyone could have told the authorities that if they failed to enforce regulations to keep the population safe, that would have happened. So, on March 2nd, the Ministry of Health reported a total of confirmed cases of; 24,103 a total of 265 more than the day before! And now, almost every hospital is out of space or on the verge of running out of room to deal with those affected.
Enforcement is critical as voluntary compliance of rules is just not a Jamaican thing, not even among church leaders, and no sooner had the Prime Minister announced new restrictions than a female pastor was arrested for breaching the emergency regulations for churches. I am not surprised that some church leaders would be against the dictate that they stream their sermons while only allowing 10 persons into the sanctuary, for the collection plate has been taking a huge hit and this will only exacerbate the situation.
Anyway, we have so many churches in Jamaica that it is absolutely amazing that the thousands of prayers going up for almost a year for the virus to leave us alone, have not been answered. I therefore wonder if when it is all over, if the number of persons attending churches will remain low, since clearly, prayers by the vocal leaders and their flock are being ignored to the point that a woman was even murdered as she worshipped in a church.
But I stray.
The new restriction which has created the most flack on social media, is the two-week ban on funerals. Wow, dat one hot, for you know how we Jamaicans love our funerals. This announcement has caused angry questions ranging from why should weddings be allowed, and not funerals to some people predicting that a public health problem will arise, since so many of our funeral homes are under equipped and will allow dead bodies to pile up in an insanitary manner. One really irate blogger even suggested that the excess bodies being piled up, should be loaded into a truck and dumped in front of Jamaica house!
However, I am never impressed by the announcement of new and more severe measures to do anything, since it is my experience that doubling of penalties and stricter measures never work because we are so poor on enforcement.
That is our number one problem in this country. Yes, there is usually a spike in enforcement after an announcement but give the authorities a week and see what happens.
Nowhere is the refusal by the police to enforce laws more blatant than on the roads, where right under the nose of five or six traffic cops standing in groups, you will see the most atrocious and dangerous road use. And the packed taxis and buses which ignore the number restrictions and lack of masking it so blatant, that only cops who are paid to keep their eyes closed could miss them.
I am also ready to bet that all the “deep cleaning” that JUTC and many private sector entities agreed to enforce, are no more either. For consistent enforcement is never on the minds of those charged to enforce these measures.
This brings me to the issue of crime, especially robberies, which are now sky rocketing, as people are not able to “hussle” as easily as they could before and so many thousands have lost jobs. The thing about robberies in Jamaica, is that it has been sky rocketing every year but the police statistics which are published, always record decreases! This is because most victims have decided that going to police station to report a robbery to an uninterested cop is a grand waste of time. For the police generally pay very little interest to robberies, unless the victim is some high-profile person, someone is shot or killed or it was caught on camera and is being widely circulated. This has been the regular practice and something I know from personal experience.
I don’t know if it is because the police force is under-staffed, or just not interested in doing their jobs. Whatever it is, we are forever losing the war on crime.
So now Covid 19 has joined crime as being impossible to control, due to the poor enforcement by those charged to do that job.
Luckily, vaccines are now available which will (hopefully) curb the long-term expansion of this dangerous virus but there will never be a vaccine for crime, so we better get serious about developing a better trained and effective police force for there is no other way to fight this scourge.
I could not speak about the police without expressing my extreme happiness at the exoneration of one of the most decent and hard-working policemen to have ever joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force. I am speaking about James Forbes who was exonerated by the Court of Appeal after mysteriously being found guilty of corruption by a parish judge.
If there was ever a decent and honest policeman it was James Forbes. And it is double disgusting that it took nine years for his name to be cleared.
Joan Williams is an author and commentator. She can be followed at; https://youtube.com/channel/UCj0wewemvZosv5SQNO3vnlw and contacted at; firstname.lastname@example.org