Crime a threat to MoBay’s investment prospects
Despite the bold plans to reposition Montego Bay as a premier investment hub, business stakeholders in the western city are still worried that St James' scary crime problem could emerge as a major stumbling block.
In a recent interview with Western Focus, veteran hotelier Godfrey Dyer spoke to the need for a step up in crime-fighting measures through the installation of CCTV cameras. He also called for a zero tolerance stance against petty crimes.
"I think crime is a serious threat to business in Montego Bay, especially tourism and the wider business process outsourcing (BPO) sector," said Dyer, newly appointed chairman of the Tourism Enhancement Fund. "Unless the authorities step up policing and put cameras in and around Montego Bay, which will help them in the detection of crimes, the city is heading for a hard time."
Dyer was speaking against the background of the frightening crime situation, especially murders, in St. James, which has surged past the 70 mark since the start of the year.
Tourist shot and injured
A tourist was among those shot and injured along the popular Hip Strip (Gloucester Avenue) in one of the growing number of gun-related incidents.
"It was so shameful the other day that a tourist got shot on Gloucester Avenue, and there was not one police officer on the Hip Strip," said Dyer.
"That is not good enough. There needs to be a lot more hands-on approach. We need to see police downtown Montego Bay, taking care of the petty crimes, that is how you solve the big crimes. When you suppress the petty crimes, it follows through that you will take care of the larger crimes."
Fellow businessman, Davon Crump, a past president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a leading player in the BPO sector, said if the crime wave continues unchecked, potential overseas investors will be deterred from doing business in Jamaica, which would be a blow to the local economy.
"As an investor, it is frightening when our clients continue to question whether it is safe to visit our region or not," said Crump.
"Crime discourages investment. No investment means no new business, and no new business means no opportunity for employment for our people."
While commending local crime fighters for their efforts to blunt lawlessness, Crump said they need to be innovative to improve their capacity to arrest the situation.
"I commend our crime fighters for maintaining the pressure on those seeking to create mayhem in our society, but they must continue to be innovative in order to rid our nation of this scourge," said Crump.