Residents and visitors who go to the busiest commercial, tourism and recreational areas in Montego Bay say they have been going about their daily business as usual, as the State of Public Emergency in St. James has had a positive impact on their sense of safety.
On Friday (January 19), visitors to the island, tour operators and residents of Montego Bay who frequent Gloucester Avenue and the Sunset Beach were busy with their regular activities.
Some tourists even conversed with Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) soldiers who traversed that thoroughfare en route to the city centre.
Joan Jameson of Toronto, Canada, who was on her fourth trip to Jamaica, said she had only learnt that there was a State of Public Emergency after her children called to make queries, as everything appeared normal to her.
Nevertheless, she told JIS News that she is looking forward to returning to the island very soon after her current vacation ends.
“There are 17 of us here, and we will keep coming back. I would love to live here. The people are so lovely. The climate is fine and everybody has fun. There is never any trouble. It is the most beautiful place we have ever been. The people are fantastic… everybody is so very accommodating,” she said.
Tour operator, Denton Martin, told JIS News that tourists are still coming in large numbers to the island via the Sangster International Airport.
“There are a lot of tourists on the streets, coming out of the hotels, walking around and enjoying themselves. They are going to the gift shops and doing their shopping just the same. I am not even sure they are aware that there is a State of Public Emergency, because they don’t see anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shanique McGhie of Rose Heights said the State of Public Emergency is welcome, and she appreciates the presence of members of the security forces.
“I think this state of emergency is really good, as it shows that something is being done,” Ms. McGhie said.
Donna-rae Dunston of Maroon Town expressed similar sentiments. “I feel safer. I know I can walk out and have my pocketbook and know I’m not gonna get robbed, she said.
Part-time University of the West Indies student, Kaben Davis, of Richmond Hill told JIS News that she believes the State of Public Emergency will result in more visitors making Jamaica their place of choice for vacations, “if they see that the Government is putting measures in place to decrease the crime rate”.
“I welcome it. I think it is a good move. My co-workers say they feel more comfortable going home in the evenings. The police and soldiers are out at that time and they have no fear… . I am sure, going forward, we will have a positive outcome,” she said.
In the meantime, Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St. James Municipal Corporation, Homer Davis, called on residents who have been declared as “persons of interest” to report to the closest police station.
“I am appealing to those persons out there who know that the police have an interest in them to hand over themselves to the police and to probably make life easier for themselves,” he said.