Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness’ announcement of States of Public Emergency (SOEs) in Hanover, St. James and Westmoreland on Tuesday (April 30) as proclaimed by the Governor-General, has received support from the business community across Western Jamaica.
President of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Winston Lawson, told JIS News that he and other members of the Chamber welcome the decision because “we saw the [crime] trend going back to where it was coming from pre the SOE in 2018”.
The SOE was first declared in St. James on January 18, 2018, and that resulted in a more than 60 per cent reduction in murders and shootings in the parish after a one-year period. It ended on January 31, 2019.
“We are happy and thankful that the attention is now being given, and that we will have some restoration of normalcy and enjoy what we would have enjoyed throughout 2018,” said Mr. Lawson.
“We have long been calling for a response from the Government and the security officers to do something that will immediately cauterise what we saw happening regarding crime,” he added.
President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, Richard Wallace, noted that the increased presence of security personnel will help restore law and order in the resort town.
He pointed out that crime and violence had been steadily becoming mainstream in Negril, to the detriment of the business community and its people.
“At the very least, we would want to see it pushed back because it is getting into mainstream too much. The criminals are brave and brazen. They seem to not have any respect for anybody, the law or businesses,” said Mr. Wallace.
As for the interim President of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, Moses Chybar, the SOE will provide all the necessary resources to effectively combat the various criminal elements that have become a plague on the good people of the parish.
“There seem to be quite a large number of incidents over the past few months and years, so the stricter measures are definitely needed, so the assistance is welcome,” Mr. Chybar said.
The Chambers of Commerce pledged to cooperate with the security forces and the Government in whatever way that will ensure not only the protection of the business communities but the people of the west.
According to data, between January 1 and April 28 this year, 29 persons were murdered in Westmoreland; 27 persons were murdered in St. James and 18 persons were murdered in Hanover.