By Carlena Knight
Schools will have to wait a bit longer before they can benefit from an upgrade in their security system with CCTV cameras.
The minister responsible for technology, Melford Nicholas, explained that the procurement of this equipment is a time-consuming matter, and due to that reason, the installation of the devices may not take place until the next school term which begins in January 2023.
CCTV cameras were among several safety measures Cabinet previously announced to address the growing number of break-ins and vandalism at schools across Antigua.
“That is obviously going to take a few weeks for us to be able to receive the necessary quotations and to get them approved in the procurement process, and then to be able to get the equipment in and to deploy it,” Nicholas told yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
“I can give a projection here that it may not be before the new term starting in January that we will be in a position, in the first instance, to start the deployment of the new CCTV system.
“I say that with the knowledge of what we have had to put in place with the IT platform for the secondary, and now primary, schools because it does take a while for the procurement of all of this equipment, to put the network in place and to ensure that we can deal with effective deployment.”
He also mentioned that due to the new internet system in the schools, the installation of these cameras may be easier for technicians to set up and operate.
This, he added, will shorten the timeline for deployment.
Other strategies tipped for curtailing break-ins include building strong-rooms or large safes on the compounds of the schools where highly-valuable items can be stored each night.
Cabinet also agreed that dark areas on the school plants will be lit. All schools are also to be fenced so that access in and out can be monitored.
Meanwhile, the project to revive CCTV cameras around St John’s City is progressing, according to Nicholas.
Speaking on the matter yesterday, he revealed that the cameras have been deployed and are up and running.
This means that the police force, defence force and Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy (ONDCP) will also have monitoring systems in specific areas around the clock including Jolly Harbour.
“The Jolly Harbour facility, which was an issue that came up with the matter surrounding Mehul Choksi, we would have as well included and improved upon the surveillance in that area,” Nicholas said, referring to last year’s apparent abduction of the Indian businessman from a property in the gated community.
“I would have, while I was abroad, seen examples of the type of surveillance coverage that will be in the harbour.
“Customs and Excise division, as well as the Antigua Port Authority in Jolly Harbour, will have surveillance of the harbour, so yes, it has gone very well,” he said.
The next step, Nicholas mentioned, is to train persons in the correct ways to monitor and conduct proper maintenance of the system.
The addition of cameras in other areas like His Majesty’s Prison and across the country is also on the cards.
The public surveillance monitoring system, implemented under the Baldwin Spencer administration in 2014, saw 110 CCTV cameras and sensors installed around the city of St John’s.
It was done in partnership with Digicel and, according to the Caribbean Journal, cost around $2.5 million.
The first phase of the project was expected to see 28 CCTV cameras installed at “strategic locations” in the city by the end of April 2014, while the remaining cameras were to be installed by the end of July, the government said.
After some time, though, the cameras for an undisclosed reason stopped working.
The initial installation of the system was previously welcomed by the public and police, as over the years, there have been many robberies and other serious crimes within the city that remained unsolved as there was no evidence to tie perpetrators to the scenes of crimes.