Gov't to Demolish Illegal Structures Erected by Gangs in Bernard … – Government of Jamaica, Jamaica Information Service

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (second right), examines the security features of his newly printed national identification card. Occasion was a tour of the Card Personalisation Centre located at the Jamaica Post Central Sorting Office in Kingston on Tuesday (December 13). Others (from left) are Member of Parliament, St. Catherine North Eastern, Hugh Graham; Programme Director, National Identification System (NIDS), Dr. Warren Vernon; and Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Floyd Green.
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Structures illegally erected on lands adjoining the Clifton community in St. Catherine, which have been captured by criminal gangs, will be demolished starting Thursday (Oct.6).
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness made the disclosure while providing an update on the Bernard Lodge Development Plan in the House of Representatives on October 5.
“This will be a watershed moment in Jamaica. It is not the first time the Government has moved to rectify illegal settlements, but it is the first time that an illegal settlement sponsored by a criminal gang will be treated with. I want this to be an example and a warning and a caution to Jamaicans,” he said.
“By tomorrow morning, action will begin to clear those structures,” he declared.
The lands, which are in the Greater Bernard Lodge Development Area, have been designated for agricultural purposes.
Prime Minister Holness said that the National Security Council, in reviewing the development plan, observed an insidious and growing threat in the area where alleged gangsters were capturing lands adjoining the Clifton community “creating their own informal subdivision and selling these lands under the false pretense of ownership or building on them themselves.”
He noted that SCJ Holdings Limited, which owns the lands, has given warnings and served notices to individuals to cease and desist, but the capturing and illegal construction has continued to the point where some 30 structures have been identified.
“Aside from the technical and security issues it poses, all of Jamaica must acknowledge that this is just wrong. The Government of Jamaica, therefore, will make a stand and ensure that this does not continue,” he said.
Mr. Holness told the House that the Government will follow the requirements of the law and “we will ensure the safety and security of the members of the community that has been legitimately recognised for regularisation. But we cannot allow this kind of audacious, brazen capture of the people’s lands.”
Mr. Holness said that the security forces have been instructed to have a strong presence in the area to treat with any threats from any criminal element that may want to interrupt or exercise control or present any obstacle to the Government rectifying the situation.
“So, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) has deployed a forward-operating base metres away from this area. They are doing regular patrols and have created a security blanket including regular surveillance, drone surveillance and other forms of surveillance to see whether or not there will be any movement by criminals in those areas,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that while the Government will act to demolish those structures that have been illegally erected “where we see extenuating circumstances… we will engage a process to deal with the structures that are complete and occupied but to be clear, they will not be allowed to stand.”
Mr. Holness reiterated that the Government wants every Jamaican to be able to own their own home and a piece of Jamaica “but it must be done orderly and lawfully.”
“This illegal capturing and building on public or private land will not be tolerated. We will not allow the illegal occupation of public lands, capturing them, pretending to sell them under the false pretense of ownership or building on them and in particular, we will not allow criminal gangs to create communities in this country,” he declared.
Meanwhile, he said the process of regularisation for residents of Clifton has commenced and is ongoing with many informal settlers given letters of possession.
SCJ Holdings Limited already has more than 350 registered titles in its possession for lots in the Clifton community and these will shortly be distributed to the new landowners.
The Prime Minister assured that the Government is committed to upgrading the road network in the community and provide residents with access to proper water supply, and connection to a central sewage system that is now under construction.
A police post is to be established in the development area, which will also provide added security for community members.
The Greater Bernard Lodge Development Plan will create an integrated community of 5400 acres of land of which 3027 acres are dedicated to agriculture.
The remainder is designated for housing, light industrial and commercial activities, social services, open and recreational spaces and an urban centre.
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Initial Officer Training Programme (IOTP) provides basic military officer training to Officer Cadets (OCdts) and their equivalents from law enforcement and uniformed services. The programme falls within the tactical level of the Professional Military Education (PME) framework of armed forces and is modelled from the Royal Military Academy Sandhursts’ (RMAS) Commissioning Course.  It was designed with the direct support and guidance of RMAS Instructing and Support Staff.
Traditionally, the Jamaica Defence Force’s (JDF) longstanding partnerships with militaries across the world has seen its OCdts being trained in academies in the following countries: United States, England, Canada, China and India. Upon the return of OCdts to the JDF, there is a requirement for doctrine and operating procedure standardization due to the varying concepts and differing contents of the training they had undergone. This is normally done at the Unit level and later, through a Young Officers’ Course. The advent of COVID-19 added a new level of complexity to travel, thus negatively affecting the process of sending OCdts overseas. Additionally, the ongoing expansion and restructuring of the Force to cauterize the ballooning threats to national security has caused an increased demand for newly commissioned Second Lieutenants.
Due to the carefully adapted military and academic curricula, IOTP serves as the course to treat with the aforementioned considerations. The methodology used addresses each issue directly and the course, through the delivery of a bespoke training syllabus, is fit for the JDF and is also relevant to the militaries and organizations within the Caribbean region and in other parts of the world.
Having the RMAS approach to training at its core, IOTP is designed with a syllabus that sees male and female integration throughout training. The course focusses on developing military skills and command with a leadership ‘golden thread’. The course structure allows the Instructing Staff to educate, build, develop and scrutinize an OCdt’s ability to decide and communicate accurately and ethically while under pressure and or stress. The expectation is that on commissioning, an OCdt will be fully cognizant of the responsibilities and personal conditions that being an Officer imposes upon them. The product of the IOTP will be an ethical and robust Officer who has the knowledge, skills, attitudes and intellectual agility to adapt their decision-making process and approach to any environment.
The home of IOTP is the Caribbean Military Academy (CMA) Newcastle, which is located at the Newcastle Hill Station, St Andrew, Jamaica.
Nestled in the cool hills of upper St Andrew and amidst beautiful trees, ferns, ground orchids, delicate wild flowers and a profusion of ginger lilies, is the Newcastle
Training Depot founded in 1841 by Major General Sir William Maynard Gomm (later Field Marshall). Gomm, a veteran of the wars against revolutionary France and Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica from 1840 to 1841, relentlessly badgered the War Office in London to establish a mountain station for British soldiers in Jamaica soon after taking up his post.
The idea of the hill station was first raised by Gomm in a letter dated April 7, 1840 to Governor Sir Charles Metcalfe. Gomm pointed out that while Up Park Camp was an ideal location for a barracks, it was subject to the ravages of yellow fever. In Jamaica the
British garrison was stationed on the plain at Up Park Camp, Stony Hill, Fort Augusta and Port Royal. Here, on the average, 1 soldier died every 2½ days. According to Russell, the year 1838 was considered a ‘good’ year: only 91 men died. In 1839, 110 men perished and in the following year 121. Initially, the British government was conservative in approving a hill station for the troops in Jamaica. They were concerned about the expense of the venture.
In May 1841, London finally sanctioned Gomm’s efforts to build what is thought to be the first permanent mountain station in the British West Indies at Newcastle. The site selected was a coffee plantation protruding from the southern face of the grand ridge of the Blue Mountains. The British government paid £4,230 for the Newcastle site.
At the outbreak of World War II (1939-1945), life at Newcastle changed a little. The British regiment was replaced by Canadian regiments which remained at Newcastle for the duration of the war. With hostilities over in 1945, the Canadians left and once again a British battalion was stationed there.
In 1958, the West Indies Federation was founded and the infantry regiments of the various Caribbean islands were disbanded and reorganized into the West India Regiment. Newcastle became a training depot, training recruits from all over the West Indies as part of the
newly formed West Indies Federation. In 1962 when Federation was disbanded, the West India Regiment was also disbanded. Jamaica simultaneously sought her independence, which was achieved on August 6, 1962. With independence, Newcastle was given to the Jamaican government as part of a general settlement of all military lands in Jamaica.
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