Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Engage erime summit for solutions

Published:Monday | October 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I find it abhorrent that some 21 per cent of murders committed in Jamaica take place in St James, a parish registering a frequency of 144 murders per 100,000 of the population year-to-date.

This is scary and brings to mind places like Kosovo some years back. The only thing different really is that there is no declared civil war here. We are indebted to People's National Party national security spokesman Peter Bunting for these figures, which prefaced his call for a high-level stakeholder summit on crime.

The late Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe, immortalised the statement "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." This is clearly the case now in Jamaica, as there is a pressing need for all stakeholders to meet and develop lasting solutions to the wave of violence in western Jamaica and, indeed, nationally, for the simple reason that everything is indeed connected.

Crime, particularly murder, affects everyone and everything. It impacts the economy negatively by discouraging investments, scares away tourists, and, at the street level, reduces purchases, as shoppers restrict their activity to buying basics. It reduces productivity, as workers stay away from work; education, as children are kept home by fearful parents; and transportation, as taxi drivers cut their working hours.

Crime has complex sociological, cultural and economic roots. Think of the lead character Ivan in the classic Jamaican movie The Harder They Come; but it is also underpinned by a facilitating formal structure, including many who should know better.

Tourism, as the second-highest earner of foreign exchange in Jamaica behind remittances, is critical to our existence, yet it is very

sensitive. A few bad reports in the foreign press or even in social media can result in overnight cancellations of hotel bookings.

We have been down this road before in Jamaica and it was not pretty.

So let us have this stakeholders meeting so that everyone can bring their perspectives and ideas to the table to develop an actual target-specific plan once and for all.



Santa Cruz, St Elizabeth