We can’t allow crime to derail us – Mayor Harris
Montego Bay mayor, Councillor Glendon Harris says it would be a travesty if the crime that is now strangling St. James is allowed to undermine and ultimately overshadow the gains the parish has made in recent years and its positive prospects for the future.
"We are asking all (the people) to come out, to speak out, to do what they are supposed to do in assisting in the reduction of crime and violence," said Harris, during a press conference at the St James Parish Council building last week. "Too much good is happening here for us to be overshadowed by just one small segment of the population that is trying to create mayhem.
"Montego Bay is moving to become the economic centre of the Caribbean," continued Harris. "So we are looking forward to all citizens joining us as the municipal corporation (parish council) in doing the right thing in seeking to make Montego Bay, St James, western Jamaica, and Jamaica a much better place."
Based on the latest crime statistics, St James, which recorded over 200 murders for the first time last year, appears on course to surpassing that dubious record as, with more than two months to go in the year, the parish is just three short of last year's 212 murders.
Both the police hierarchy and the parish's business community have repeatedly blamed the rampant lawlessness on the illicit lottery, which has become an established platform for persons seeking to get rich quick through unlawful means.
However, in speaking to some of the economic opportunities on the horizon for Montego Bay, Harris provided details on a recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between Montego Bay and the city of Wuhan, China.
"The Montego Bay Chinese Sister City Committee made arrangements and contacts, and a small delegation went to China, where we signed a MOU with Wuhan, one of the five mega cities in China," said Harris, who noted that Wuhan has a population of 12.5 million people.
"We have signed a MOU establishing a partnership with Wuhan that will cover a variety of areas .... culture, education, agriculture, manufacturing, trade and tourism, among other areas."
The mayor also pointed to the fact that a number of banking entities were now establishing footprints in Montego Bay, which he reads as a sign that business confidence is high in the city.
"It takes no science to realise that, when you see the Bank of Nova Scotia and the First Caribbean Bank developing financial centres here in Montego Bay, plus we have broken ground for the establishment of a financial centre for the National Commercial Bank, that the city is growing at a rapid rate."
The mayor also pointed to the fact that the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is becoming an integral part of the western city landscape and is poised for significant expansion.
"For the BPO sector, the demand is for Montego Bay ... persons entering into the business are not asking for Jamaica, they are asking for Montego Bay; so we have to have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate the growth that is taking place," said Harris.
In its bid to help rein in the lawlessness, the mayor said that the parish council's crime committee has been working assiduously in the bid to find solutions to the crime situation, which is threatening the parish's growth potential.