ST. CATHERINE, Jamaica – Spanish Town’s business community, which has threatened to wilt under the town’s long-running gang feuds in the past, is succumbing to the latest eruption between the ‘One Order’ and ‘Clansman’ gangs.
“The violence is creating havoc in the business community, some people are closing down, while others moving out,” president of the St. Catherine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dennis Robotham, told The Gleaner Tuesday.
During the past two weeks, at least 17 persons have been murdered and 24 shot and injured in the Old Capital. According to Mr. Robotham, businesses are suffering and losing millions of dollars. He said that if the trend continued business operators would soon have to cut staff.
“Everybody is fearful, consumers are not coming out, and businesses are forced to pull down their shutters much earlier than usual,” Mr. Robotham said.
He said the presence of limited security forces in the troubled town was not being felt. Mr. Robotham believes that increased numbers in security personnel would be a temporary solution to the fighting which has been raging for almost five years.
Speaking with The Gleaner/ Power 106 News Centre yesterday, head of the St. Catherine North Police Division, Superin-tendent Kenneth Wade, said the police plan to meet with Spanish Town businesspersons today.
His comments came after a high-profile meeting yesterday between the police High Command and officers from the St. Catherine North Division.
“We have a strong police presence in the area – and even at the bus terminus – to challenge any situation that develops,” said Supt. Wade.
A group of residents who spoke with The Gleaner yesterday said the latest round of violence has nothing to do with gang rivalry. One man said the shooting began about three weeks ago with the death of a man known as ‘Baker Roy’ from the Johnson Pen area.
“Since then, is just tit for tat,” said one Tawes Pen resident.
Supt. Wade disagreed with residents who said the fighting was not gang related. He said the fighting stems from the alleged murder of ‘One Order’ gang leader, Andrew ‘Bunman’ Hope in March.
The ‘One Order’ gang has strong ties to the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party, while the ‘Clansman’ gang backs the governing People’s National Party.