Mission: Clarendon Rescue | Businesses bleeding - Crime causes closure of some establishments
The high level of crime in Clarendon is taking a toll on the economy of the central Jamaica parish, with the operators of one major entity already packing it in while operators of some smaller entities are said to be considering their options.
Some small businesses are closing their doors earlier than normal while some informal businesses, including restaurants and bars, have been shuttered in high-crime districts.
Stakeholders in the parish all admit that the 456 major crimes recorded in the Clarendon last year, although 110 fewer than recorded in 2015, are having a devastating impact on the parish, including families, as many have been thrown into the unemployment line.
"There can be no meaningful business or creation of wealth because of what's happening with crime," said Custos William Shagoury.
"It is no secret that crime stifles development, and in certain areas where they put crime on a pedestal, rather than trying to stamp it out, then you are going to find that those communities are going to be affected more severely than other areas," Dei Rasi Freckleton told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday.
"I can tell you that in sections of Clarendon, there are some businesses which have gone out of operation for one reason or another, not just crime, but I can tell you that crime has played a significant role in some of these businesses closing and productivity being lost," added Freckleton, who is the founder of the group Peace in May Pen.
"What I see happening is that many business persons are fearful and many are really closing down because they don't want to be killed, and they are fearful of losing their investments," declared Vinroy Harrison, principal of Central High School.
EFFECTS ON GROWTH
Harrison argued that the closure of businesses is affecting economic growth in the parish as employment possibilities are disappearing.
Shagoury shared the concerns as he warned that the spiralling crime situation is leading to a stagnation of the parish, and this could get worse if the situation in not addressed urgently and effectively.
According to Shagoury, Clarendon will see no real economic growth unless the Government sees the urgency in addressing the problems contributing to crime and violence.
"There has been no long-term development over the years. No one really wants to come to a parish which has the third highest murder toll," Shagoury told a Gleaner team on special assignment in the parish.
Pointing to Trans Global Aqua Culture Limited, which closed its shrimp and lobster operation three years ago as a result of the constant theft of equipment and other criminal activities, Shagoury argued that the parish is being hurt badly by negative developments such as this.
The custos noted that more than 200 persons lost their jobs in the closure of Trans Global which was operated by an American entity.
He argued that Clarendon cannot afford to have any more businesses pulling out, and measures must be put in place to rescue the economy of the parish and to ensure that new businesses come in.
*Arthur Hall contributed to this story.