Downtown safe for shoppers
Published: Friday | December 11, 2009
Police presence will be increased in the downtown Kingston area come next Wednesday for the 'Christmas in the City, Downtown Comes Alive' shopping extravaganza expected to bring scores of residents to the island's premier commercial district.
Area Four crime chief, Deputy Superintendent Michael Phipps, told The Gleaner that his team would be implementing several measures to give shoppers peace of mind in an area in the city, which does not always inspire confidence.
"There will be an increase in police presence in the downtown area extending to the Half-Way Tree area. There will be overt and covert patrols," he said.
On Tuesday, Mayor of Kingston Desmond McKenzie had also vouched for the safety of shopping downtown, saying Jamaicans should not be fearful because the area had the lowest crime rate in the country.
"Robberies are down by 80 per cent, murders are down, the only problem the police have is the illegal vendors and persons parking in the no-parking areas," McKenzie had said earlier this week.
Store operators in the district are also looking forward to the day.
Manager of Carousel Store on King Street, Cuhsi Chanbiram, said his main aim in joining the initiative is to establish unity in the city.
"We can live as one and persons don't have to be afraid of security issues. At the end of the day, I hope to change the image of the capital city for shopping," he said.
As the countdown to the special date continues, The Gleaner has learnt that several of the island's top celebrities will be joining Prime Minister Bruce Golding to shop downtown. While shoppers are invited as early as shops downtown open, the day's schedule goes from 3-10 p.m.
Free car park
Shoppers can park for free at the Urban Development Commission (UDC) car park located at Harbour Street. Shoppers can then hop on a shuttle from the car park to the commercial district. Live entertainment will accompany the day, with Justice Square along King Street being the hub of activity.
Justice Square is expected to be transformed to host hundreds of vendors.
Next Wednesday will mark the official start of Grand Market on the streets of downtown Kingston, where merchants and small vendors will offer huge discounts.
The programme, launched on Wednesday, is part of an initiative for the redevelopment of downtown Kingston. Plans for the city's re-emergence are to come on stream next year with the start of construction of the Digicel headquarters and the relocation of some government ministries.