Jamaica Gleaner / WESTERN BUREAU:
Business leaders, stakeholders and citizens in St James are now in panic, taken aback at the state of crime in the parish after an astonishing 13 murders over the past week.
The spate of killings has left frightened residents wondering if the calm brought on by the zone of special operations (ZOSO) still under way in Mount Salem is now completely shattered.
“We are in a crisis! The security forces and the minister of national security seem clueless of any method or process that would support the ordinary citizen in securing safe passage as we go about our business,” declared attorney-at-law Nathan Robb, a former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI).
“We all have to traverse the streets day and night, and at any point in time anywhere in Montego Bay, a life can be taken, as these shootings are not taking place in some remote section of the city, or our so-called ghetto communities, it is in the centre of the city.”
He added, “Our leaders in Montego Bay have remained silent for fear of embarrassing Government and their friends, out of fear that it will damage tourism, but crime is already damaging those who work in the productive sector, so development is ultimately affected.”
NEED AT LEAST THREE ZOSOS
Businessman Davon Crump, who has significant investment in the city’s fledgling business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, said Montego Bay was in deep trouble, as crime was seriously hurting business.
“We are in trouble. Crime is affecting productivity because workers living in troubled communities have to leave before its dark to get home,” said Crump, who is also a former president of the MBCCI.
“I do not think ZOSO is bearing fruit in terms of the realities of what is happening. I am still trying to understand why putting ZOSO in [Mount] Salem would impact crime when people are still dying in Montego Bay.”
Businessman Godfrey Dyer, who is both a former policeman and ex-president of MBCCI, thinks one ZOSO in Montego Bay is inadequate, as while Mt Salem, where the ZOSO was declared, is enjoying relative peace, other communities are being overrun by gun-toting criminals.
“With ZOSO, we have to keep trying, but we need to raise the manpower. We also need to have at least three ZOSO operations taking place at the same time,” said Dyer, who now serves as chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF).
“We see some raids taking place and several weapons have been recovered, but more is possible if we intensify our efforts. I still maintain that our number one problem in Montego Bay is crime.”
BELLY BOTTOM TREMBLING
Fear is now gripping more and more communities as, on a day-to-day basis, heavily armed gangsters trade bullets in the streets with impunity.
A woman who witnessed Sunday night’s double murder at a stop light in Flanker from the back seat of a taxi was a nervous wreck when The Gleaner spoke to her yesterday.
“Mi belly bottom still trembling. I wouldn’t want to see anything like that in my life again,” said the woman. “It is better to be hungry than dead.”
In the incident, which occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m., 24-year-old Daniel ‘Don’ Angling and 20-year-old ‘Shawn ‘Black’ Titus, both of Corbett Drive in Flankers, were killed when unknown assailants fired multiple shots into the Toyota Mark X motor car in which they were travelling.
Last year, St James had a record 264 murders, but with just over two months to go in the year, the parish has already tallied 254 murders.
In fact, since the parish became the home of the nation’s first ZOSO on September 1, it has recorded 57 murders.