Crime cramping entertainment business
As the Government wrestles with concerns around the impact early party lock-offs are having on the entertainment industry, there is another major roadblock wreaking havoc on the earnings of both large and small players on the scene – crime.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner, chairman of Wisynco William Mahfood suggested that the impact of crime on the frequency and turnout at local events played a role in preventing business from booming over the last year.
“Especially in the consumption of manufacturing, distribution and consumer products. There has been a slowing down of consumers. Crime is definitely having an impact. The economy in the last quarter has started to slow down. You have to ask what’s going on,” Mahfood said.
States of emergency have been imposed in St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, St Catherine South, Clarendon, and St Andrew South to address frightening rates of murder and other serious crimes.
In addition, there are several zones of special operations (ZOSOs) in hotbed communities across the island.
But in analsying those anti-crime strategies, the Wisynco boss, and former president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, lamented that he has seen no real impact.
“We still have high levels of crime and violence, especially in high-crime areas,” Mahfood said.
On January 18, it will have been two years since the first state of emergency was implemented in St James.
However, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, in defending the anti-crime strategies, said he would have thrown in the towel if he had the conviction that his efforts were failing.
MURDER RATE DIP
He pointed to a dip in the murder rate and asked for patience as he promised improved results in the new year.
“If I didn’t think it could work, I would have abandoned it a long time ago. We have saved hundreds of lives. It (murders) has dropped by 50 per cent in Clarendon, 25 per cent in St Catherine South, and 40 per cent in Westmoreland and Hanover. In St Catherine South, it is down 20 per cent,” Anderson told The Sunday Gleaner.
Entertainment events have been negatively affected in the parishes under states of emergency.
Owner of the Metro Media Sound System, James ‘Jimmy Metro’ Haldeen, is echoing Mahfood’s concern that profits are dwindling due to the effects of crime.
“Considering that the country is slowing down and with the states of emergency, it is heavy on the sound system business. We are losing 75 per cent of that business. Those parishes are some of the main parishes where we play,” Haldeen said.
Haldeen said the impact on the entertainment industry was being felt across the board due to the negative side effects of crime.
Worrell* owns a Nissan AD Wagon and routinely fills the vehicle with coconuts, alcohol, cigarettes and other consumer products, which he peddles at entertainment events in Montego Bay.
Dances have dried up in the inner-city communities on the outskirts of the resort town.
“No business not booming again. Yes, in the town the big man dem keep going, but for us in the poorer section, the emergency vibes take away the vibes. We live a MoBay where dance keep every night in the ghetto. No more dance can’t go on regular again,” he said.
Kimesha* lives on the outskirts of May Pen, Clarendon. She is an avid dancehall fan and also bemoaned the fact that dances are not being held regularly in the central Jamaican parish capital.
“Me life is not normal. I agree that crime is out of hand. Does that mean we can’t have the chance to bruk out? All we have sometime is the likkle dance where the peanut man, the jerk chicken man, the girl who do hair and nails get some business and help them family. The emergency state that them have we under not stopping the killing, so might as well them make we party,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
Wysinco’s trucks distribute a variety of consumer products islandwide and have been targeted by armed robbers along the Mount Rosser, St Catherine, and Chalky Hill, St Ann, routes. This resulted in the company absorbing increased security expenses.
“We had to put in armed escorts every hour on the hour,” Mahfood told The Sunday Gleaner.
But Anderson urged patience.
“In the same spaces where we have the drops, the people there are grateful to be able to live normally. How is it not working?” the top cop said.