HUNDREDS of Jamaicans have rallied to the troops on the ground in West Kingston, sending them huge quantities of water and rations, to meet the challenge of feeding over 2,000 men and women trying to flush out gunmen supporting Tivoli Gardens fugitive, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
“We have received hundreds of calls expressing goodwill and support for the troops from Jamaicans everywhere,” said Superintendent James Forbes, the man in charge of those logistics. Forbes, a senior officer at the Community Safety and Security Division in Kingston, said the many organisations giving “overwhelming support” included the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, other private sector groups and service entities.
One service club, the Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, sent out a mass e-mail to its members requesting assistance in providing food and drinks for the over 2,000 lawmen on the ground, “who, through their heroic action, risked their lives for the safety of all law-abiding Jamaicans”.
“The over 2,000 personnel on the ground in Tivoli are out of food and drinks — biscuits, buns, sardines and corned beefs, etc,” the club said. “They have been asking organisations and associations to help. The Small Business Association of Jamaica as well as members of the Kingston Kiwanis Club have already done so.”
But Forbes, contacted by the Observer, explained that the massive operation to catch Coke and repel his criminal supporters could not have been foreseen when the budget was crafted earlier this year.
Furthermore, under the circumstances, the regular suppliers had not been able to meet this kind of demand, with markets not operating as normal and many staff not at work because of the violence.
“It has been a challenge sustaining the guys on the ground over the past 48 hours,” said Forbes. “But we are not worried because civil society has responded overwhelmingly, they have thrown their support behind us, with water, rations and other goods to help meet basic needs.”