Negril willing to take economic hit to tackle crime
Unlike counterparts in Montego Bay who are seemingly worried that the reinstatement of the state of public emergency (SOE) will impact their earnings, business operators in the resort town of Negril are seemingly more concerned about fixing the crime problem than about potential financial losses.
Businessman Ryan ‘Kush’ Morrison, the president of the Negril Entertainment Association, says that while businesses in the town will suffer significant losses because of the nightlife restrictions, the SOE was worth embracing.
“It will have a negative effect on commerce, just like crime,” said Morrison, who is also the chief executive officer of Kush Art Jamaica. “It is a price the general community is willing to pay due to fear.”
While welcoming the second edition of the SOE in St James, Winston Lawson, the president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the authority to be lenient with business opening hours.
“Our primary concern is that lives are not lost, and we are always prepared to make the sacrifice, but we want to hope that some consideration can be given as to how we can find some common ground in terms of the opening hours for our businesses,” Lawson told The Gleaner in the aftermath of Tuesday’s announcement of the SOE.
Under the Emergency Power Act, The Emergency Power Regulation 2019, clubs, fast-food restaurant, places that operate under a tavern licence, and other public places – except tourism enterprises or tourist accommodations – will operate within restricted hours.
Businessman Delroy Johnson, who operates the popular Mi Yard establishment in Negril, said that while he is likely to lose business, he still supports the SOE. However, he said he had a number of concerns, especially in terms of getting maximum impact from the SOE.
“The Government now has the experience from last year’s SOE in St James, but the question is, has the Government learned anything?” asked Johnson. “We just have to wait and see.”
He added: “Searching for salt in sand requires a special tool. Is the SOE that special tool, or is it the only tool we have?”
Like Johnson, Morrison is also worried that the SOE alone might not be able to fix the crime problem, which has transformed Negril from a place of casual relaxation to a place where guns have been barking in recent months.