Urgent call for stern, unbiased policing in the region
Despite having many of the important variables to achieve success, business stakeholders in western Jamaica are worried that the scary crime situation, which churned out 268 murders in St James last year, could derail their plans to make the sector viable.
"The top priority for 2017 must be crime reduction," said outspoken businessman Davon Crump, a leading player in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector. "... and it must be done with the same intensity and alacrity that is seen when it affects international visitors and persons with influence ... this must become the new norm.
"We have some of the best investigative minds in the region. They must be the ones leading the charge when these heinous acts are committed within our borders, whether foreigner or local," added Crump.
"I will always support our crime-fighters, but if you say zero tolerance, it must become a standard because crime affects everyone," Crump continued, a former president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
"As an investor, I must give my clients and employees the assurance that they are safe. I see the efforts by the Government. This must now begin to reflect on the ground."
While in agreement that an effective anti-crime strategy is an imperative, Gloria Henry, the incumbent Chamber of Commerce boss, believes that an improvement in the social infrastructure should also be a critical part of whatever measures are brought to bear in the fight against lawlessness.
"I do agree that a more forthright and effective handling of the crime problem in St James will realise lasting results, but the Chamber wants to see a comprehensive programme for community renewal in the many informal communities to augment crime-fighting strategies," said Henry. "The business community is also prepared to lead a deep collaboration with the new local government administration for a major clean-up of downtown and strict enforcement by the municipal police of the anti-litter legislation."