Too many idle hands - Stakeholders believe youth from Park and 100 lanes lack opportunities
Small businesses along Red Hills Road, St Andrew, are reeling from the negative impact the recent upsurge in violence is having on them.
Pointing out that there are too many idle hands in the communities in the area, they are demanding that the relevant authorities apply a serious approach to fixing the social ills across Jamaica.
"The impact is significant, because the people who would come and do business with you are afraid of the area. That can lead to bankruptcy and hardship," Hugh Johnson, president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica, told The Gleaner yesterday.
"While the powers-that-be use the security forces to cauterise the situation to prevent the loss of life, I do not feel that long-term measures are being tackled to address the situation. There is a greater social ill that we have to address, and if we do not, these things will happen from time to time."
The deadly violence in the area resumed two weeks ago when 37-year-old Hafia Fowles, said to be the common-law wife of an incarcerated don, was fatally shot by gunmen in 100 Lane off Red Hills Road.
That killing was reported to be because some residents of the lane were celebrating the death of a nearby Park Lane strongman who was fatally shot by the police just over one week before.
The police immediately imposed a curfew in the area amid reports of planned reprisals for Fowles' death.
But that was not enough to stop the gunmen who struck close to the entrance of Park Lane on Saturday evening. Six persons were shot, two fatally.
"We need to look at the education system and how it is structured. We must also look at the equitable distribution of wealth. Over the last 10 years, the margin between poor and rich has widened," said Johnson.
"I am from St Catherine, which is the heart of those types of anti-social behaviours, so I can identify with that type of behaviour and the impact it has on one's operations. You will find that staff can't come out and customers can't come out."
YOUTHS NEED MORE OPPORTUNITIES
One proprietor on Red Hills Road believes that too many youth from Park and 100 lanes are idle.
Speaking to The Gleaner on condition of anonymity, he said the recent violence has harmed his bar and lounge. However, he is fortunate that he has another business to fall back on.
"At the bar, it will take a while for people to come back until they fully know things are back to normal. The people from the area still come and have a one drink and [remember] the moment, especially the people who were at the scene and had to run for cover," he stated.
"I think more opportunities need to be provided for the youths. Nuff a di youth dem willing to work, but work is not there. When you give them the opportunity and they don't want it, then you will have to do your next best thing."
He was adamant that none of the persons shot were involved in wrongdoing.
"Everyone is in shock. It was not like they saw the man and came for him. A regular people weh always play dominoes. I believe whoever did it just decided that they wanted to kill some innocent people. Not one of those people shot has anybody associated with violence," he stressed.
Shoe repairman Winston said that the recent violence was caused by a bad seed planted.
"A seed that is planted grows root. You have to get rid of the bad root before anything can be fixed. The mind of the people is the root and it is passed down from generation to generation. When these things happen, people stay away from the area. I would like to see peace," he said.