Lovers, criminals find home in Portmore ruins
Historic ruins at the foot of the Port Henderson Hills, near the world-famous Rodney's Arms Restaurant and Bar in St Catherine, are deteriorating into a haven for criminals, squatters and determined couples braving the lot for private sexual intimacy.
This, even as Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas seeks approval to obtain the lands, which he says would be an integral part of a tourism package being developed for Portmore.
"We recognise that the ... area is a major attraction and that it can be a destination for our tourists. We wrote a letter to the Railway Corporation, which owns the land, and other entities, seeking approval to take over the area and we are awaiting their response," said Thomas.
"There are quite a lot of historic sites, including Rodney's Lookout, and the Portmore Municipal Corporation is quite interested in the whole property to restore it as one of the attractions," the continued, listing Fort Clarence, Manatee Bay, and the Twin Sisters Cave as other attractions in the area to be developed and marketed.
Already, he said, developers from Canada are interested in the project, and he is keeping his fingers crossed for a favourable response from the local authorities.
Such development cannot come sooner for some residents of Port Henderson, including 'Shortman', an ancillary worker at Rodney's Arms Restaurant and Bar.
"People come here and have them joy, man. At nights over there, they are just going on like nothing not even matter," said 'Shortman', pointing to ruins near the business place and laughing.
"The amount of vehicles that park up the road there at night time, and right through the night dem [people] a do them thing. Them just use the car as shelter," he said, leaning in to issue a warning.
"But you have to look out of your eye, though. Nothing don't really go on frequently, but you never know," said Shortman, pointing to the broken stretch of tar that meanders up a rocky hillside to the site where the infamous Green Bay killings occurred in 1978.
It was easily understood by the couples who visited the ruins off Port Henderson Road in Portmore, St Catherine, especially at nights last week, that they were doing so at their own risk.
The crisp asphalt that serves the adjacent Bay Front Villas community crumble into bumper-deep potholes as the hill nears, and are almost impassable during heavy rains.
In contrast to the freshly painted structures to the east, the white stone ruins, veritable treasures of Jamaica's rich past, eerily peeped through the darkness. Still, the operators of at least five motor vehicles on a wet Wednesday night were not daunted from taking up their favoured spots in the darkness.
For more than 45 minutes there were no patrol cars.
"You have man that will drive up the hill and try to rob people, still. So that's why you have to look out. Sometimes police pass through, but not all the while," said Shortman, an ancillary worker at Rodney's Arms Restaurant and Bar.
Last week, Senior Superintendent of Police Clive Blair, recently installed head of the St Catherine South Police Division, said his officers patrol the area regularly and there have been no reported incidents of criminality in recent months.
"Nothing there for the past two months. I can't tell you about what happened before, but I can say we have no reports in that time," said Blair, his response no surprise to Shortman, who claims that couples usually use the area as a sexual hideaway and thus are ashamed to report matters to the police because of the location.
Portmore Mayor Leon Thomas said it was common knowledge that persons visit the hill to be promiscuous but that he, too, has heard of no criminal incidents in recent times.