KINGSTON, Jamaica – These are days residents of Ewarton wished would never come.
With the absence of bauxite and, more important, persons employed in the bauxite industry, businesses have slowed to a crawl.
The once well-patronised business establishments are not doing anywhere near as well as they did before bauxite operations at the Windalco plant in the community ended some months ago.
“Mi miss dem bad. Things get slow bad,” Lisa, a bar operator, said of her customers from Windalco.
She said they would still come occasionally but the quantity of their purchases had diminished significantly.
“If them used to buy three drinks, them now buy one,” the bar owner said.
The businesswoman has taken action to reduce her stock.
“I now buy three of each item instead of the 12 I used to buy,” she said.
Despite this move, she is still finding it difficult to cope.
A neighbouring bar fared no better in its attempts.
However, the eight-year business operator had a foolproof plan totake care of her children’s school fees.
Lisa has joined a partner plan with friends, and the returns have helped her survive.
“I have already paid for the registration,” she added.
In the Orangefield community, Gareth Lewis, another bar owner, said when The Gleaner visited that in the past, there would have already been a line of vehicles parked outside.
Patricia, a bartender, could easily tally her total between morning and noon – a mere $200. A month ago, the neighbouring restaurant closed down because of the lack of customers. Now, Patricia says she is lonely because there are neither customers nor business operators with whom she can talk.
The barbershops and hair salons have not been spared from the downturn in business, forcing some of those businesses to close. Still, other businessmen are left to contemplate their future.
Errol, who operates a barbershop in Ewarton, reflected on better days when he was able to purchase vehicles through his earnings. These days, he said, buying a vehicle is not possible.
Although the price for a haircut remains at a competitive $200, customers find it hard to pay.
“When them come sometimes, the money small, but you have to work with it,” Errol said.
However, he added: “I don’t know how long I will be here.”