Riverton Meadows cries out for help
Residents of Riverton Meadows are appealing to the Government for intervention to enhance and improve the lives of the children and young adults.
Poor infrastructure including dirt roads and board houses are not their only problems. The Kingston 11 community has been a hotspot for a few years and is plagued by gang violence that has claimed many lives since 2017.
"There are lots of fatherless children in Riverton and we a cry out to the prime minister on behalf of the children dem. This morning [yesterday] mi get up and mi see mi 13-year-old daughter make a post say she can't find nuh happiness suh might as well she just live inna di pain. The children dem down here future nuh bright, it a dim. We want an end to the violence and killings please," said a tearful mother. She said the violence has affected the children's academic performance and this is evident in their exam marks.
"Di odda day di pickney dem do PEP [Primary Exit Profile] and we a look fi dem pass fi a higher school and dem tell we say dem couldn't focus. If clappas fire down here, pickney down here run go under dem bed because dem fraid. We a beg a peace meeting so something can be done on behalf of the youth dem. Nobody wouldn't want dem children to grow up around here. Mi a beg unno nuh make di youth dem future go down the drain," she said.
"Yuh have nine-year-old round here a smoke weed because dem depress and angry and dem don't know how or where to channel dem anger. Nuff a di youth dem lose dem father to murder and as small as dem is a revenge dem a pree. Too much innocent people a dead and di youth dem fraid fi walk," the woman added.
Head of the St Andrew South Police Division Senior Superintendent Kirk Ricketts agreed that social intervention is needed.
"We have been seeking to do some interventions and in fact we are in the process of getting a police youth club particularly aiming to those vulnerable children. We have reached out to the member of parliament and we are in discussions with him and his staff members to see how we can organise that. We do have a conflict between men from Riverton and Callaloo Mews and Shanty. We are trying to get clubs on both sides of the fence where the youngsters can interact and know that they don't have to try and kill each other," he said.
The senior cop said the police are also doing regular walkthroughs to have meaningful interaction with the residents. But he admitted it is one of the hardest communities to crack.
"Based on how it is designed with dirt tracks, zinc fences, poorly lit areas and it's hard to traverse in motor vehicles, and we sometimes have to depend on our Quick Response Team on bikes or foot patrol. It is going to be very difficult but we are here to do our best. We are using this opportunity to invite other agencies on board because there is a need for this type of social intervention," Ricketts said.