Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, says his Government has been examining the establishment of zones where Reggae/Dancehall events can be held 24 hours per day.
His comment came against the background of heightened complaints by members of the Dancehall fraternity about the issue of the early lockdown of entertainment events within Kingston. He made his comments while speaking at the Civic Ceremony to commemorate the Centenary of the life of Jamaican folklore icon Louise Bennett on Sunday.
“It could never be the intention of Government to, in any way stifle the culture which is necessary, necessary for the development of our people. We hear the cries of the entertainment community; we hear the cries of the dancehall community. We hear the cries of the artistes the entertainers, the sound system operators; we hear,” the Prime Minister said.
“But as a society evolves, as society grows and develops, we must find a consensus on order. Order is the basis on which everyone can grow, and not just grow, but thrive. And I believe that there is a way to allow the sound system operator, the musician and the entertainer to have their parties if they want to party up till 5 o’ clock by the way – 5am. Then so let it be; it’s an industry, but in my own constituency, where I have embraced this and created a Hip Strip, were we have parties for every day of the week, I still have to deal with the nurse who comes to me and say: ‘listen, I work at KPH and I cannot sleep,” he explained.
Holness said he has had discussions with Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange regarding the establishment of entertainment zones, which would have all the amenities of modern entertainment venues.
“Minister Grange can tell you that two years ago I said to her: ‘we need to establish special entertainment zones and we need to make the investments in these zones, call them ‘creative Oases’ where people can go and party from sunrise to sunset to sunrise again, where they have all the provisions necessary for security, for parking, proper stage because we need to embrace it, because that is the only way we are going to ensure that the culture does not cave in on itself,” the Prime Minister said.
According to Holness, the Government must ensure it makes decisions which are fair to all Jamaicans and do not appear to favor one set of people, who might appear to have stronger ‘backative’ than others.
“It is the reality, and as the leader of the Government at this point in time, we cannot just make decisions by virtue of who has the loudest voice and the most influential advocates. We have to make decisions that are fair and respectful of the rights of all citizen,” he said.
“So I am receiving the messages, and I am receiving the calls; some are very extreme, not seeking to have any compromise. But I am seeing where emerging there are voices of reason in the entertainment community who are saying ‘we understand Prime Minister, we understand and there are ways to do it’” Holness added.