‘LAST CHANCE’

Stake­hold­ers warn of busi­ness, tourism fall­out if crime not curbed next month

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Mark Ti­tus Gleaner Writer

WHILE THE de­bate over whether a state of emer­gency is the ideal re­sponse to the up­surge in crime in Mon­tego Bay, St James, con­tin­ues to at­tract mixed re­ac­tions, two prom­i­nent busi­ness op­er­a­tors in the tourist cap­i­tal are warn­ing that the city will have much to lose if the se­cu­rity forces fail to get a grip on the sit­u­a­tion.

“We will lose a lot. We could see can­cel­la­tions that will af­fect the next win­ter sea­son if we don’t cor­rect the prob­lem now,” said busi­ness­man God­frey Dyer, chair­man of the Tourism En­hance­ment Fund, dur­ing a Gleaner Ed­i­tors’ Fo­rum on crime held yes­ter­day at Pier One in Mon­tego Bay.

“We have the last chance to do it (be­cause) Oc­to­ber is the last slow month. Novem­ber, we will start to pick up again, so we need to make

use of this Oc­to­ber month, clean up Mon­tego Bay and sur­round­ing ar­eas so we can have a good win­ter sea­son.”

Added Dyer: “We may play around, (be­ing) afraid of a state of emer­gency, and we go right into the win­ter tourist sea­son still killing. That is go­ing to kill the in­dus­try.”

Mon­tego Bay hit the 200mur­der mark for the sec­ond time in its his­tory fol­low­ing an­other mur­der on Bar­nett Street in the tourist town on Tues­day evening, and Davon Crump, CEO of Global Out­sourc­ing So­lu­tion Lim­ited, a call cen­tre op­er­a­tion in the Mon­tego Bay Free­zone, be­lieves this could erode the progress be­ing made in the busi­ness process out­sourc­ing (BPO) sec­tor.

“The BPO sec­tor is about to take off in terms of growth,” said Crump.

“I am aware that Suther­land Global is em­ploy­ing an ad­di­tional 1,500 peo­ple, Xerox an­other 2,500, and there are many other call cen­tres that can pro­vide up to 4,000 jobs shortly, but the re­al­ity of it is that be­cause of what is hap­pen­ing in our city, it can af­fect some of these in­vest­ments com­ing in.”

He added: “We had to send home agents, and then we have to ex­plain to our clients in the US why we were send­ing them home. They (clients) were com­ing to Ja­maica for a visit and they de­cided against it be­cause of what is hap­pen­ing, so it will af­fect in­vest­ments com­ing here. It might not be im­me­di­ately, but these things do have a trickle-down ef­fect and could hurt us.”

Ac­cord­ing to Crump, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Mon­tego Bay Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, the crime prob­lem has af­fected ev­ery form of com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity in the parish cap­i­tal and its cit­i­zens are now liv­ing in fear.

He is call­ing for a sus­tained zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach.

“Our city is law­less, and we must take it back from the sim­plest of things – lit­ter­ing, uri­nat­ing in pub­lic. These are the things we must ad­dress if we are to ef­fec­tively deal with the mur­ders,” Crump said.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Po­lice­men search a man dur­ing an op­er­a­tion in Mon­tego Bay, St James, yes­ter­day.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/ FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

A res­i­dent of Mount Salem, St James, who lost a fam­ily mem­ber dur­ing the re­cent up­surge in vi­o­lence, speaks with a po­lice­man yes­ter­day.

CRUMP

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