Fearful Porus grinds to a halt at dusk
Chamber boss ecourages vigilance as SOEs squeeze neighbouring parishes
Once hailed by residents as a town that never sleeps, Porus morphs into a ghost town by 6 o’clock each evening as fearful natives retreat to the safety of their homes at dusk. Since the fatal shooting of a supermarket owner and market vendor last...
Once hailed by residents as a town that never sleeps, Porus morphs into a ghost town by 6 o’clock each evening as fearful natives retreat to the safety of their homes at dusk.
Since the fatal shooting of a supermarket owner and market vendor last Friday, scared business operators have been also been shuttering their operations hours before their normal closing time.
“A lot of people are scared because we’re not used to this robbery and killing and, because we’re scared, it’s impacting our businesses in a negative way. Some are scared to come out, and as the evening come, everybody want to go home,” one business owner, who did not want to be identified, told The Gleaner on Thursday.
Chinese business owner Jin Siam Ye and market vendor Alphonso Cohen from Berrydale were robbed and killed by a group of men in a supermarket owned by the former last Friday.
According to police reports, the deadly incident unfolded about 7:30 p.m.
Four of the suspected robbers, including two teenagers, were apprehended by cops shortly after.
Declaring that it was no longer safe to do business in Porus, one operator said establishments would normally ramp up security around the Christmas period. However, she is not very optimistic that such a measure will deter criminals this season.
“Considering what happened Friday, even of we had security, I don’t think it would actually do anything because of the wild shooting,” she reasoned.
Maxine Thompson, a restaurant owner in the town, said this was her first time experiencing this level of crime in her 13 years of operating her business.
The incident has left her discouraged and scared.
“When dat happen, mi feel like mi woulda just lock down,” she said.
Thompson explained that she would open her business as early as 4:30 a.m daily to start preparing her breakfast menu, and stay open as late as 10 p.m.
For the past week, she has been closing her business as early as 6 p.m. And even though she is already noticing a loss in revenue, it is a security measure that she feels is necessary.
“Mi nuh know when dem a come,” she said.
“Porus always quiet, y’know. Anywhere you a come from, you coulda stop a Porus and sleep, park yuh vehicle and sleep. Now, yuh don’t know who is who,” she further lamented.
A similar sentiment was echoed by variety store owner Glenton Simms. He, too, has had reduced his business hours out of fear and is now extra cautious about who he lets into his establishment.
“You can’t trust the people dem coming in and clouding the location. You can welcome a person to buy a product [but] you don’t know what is next,” the 69-year-old said.
Meanwhile, Simone Spence Johnson, president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, is encouraging residents to take extra precautions to secure their businesses.
“You just have to be extra vigilant, look at your operations, look at your time that you’re operating. It gets darker now as it gets closer to Christmas. So, if you need to adjust the time or hire extra security, put up security cameras if you don’t have any, and look out for persons coming in that might raise a red flag,” she said in a Gleaner interview.
She also charged business owners to look out for each other.
Spence Johnson blames the increase in criminal activities in the usually quiet parish on the states of emergency (SOEs) now in effect in surrounding parishes, which are forcing criminals to migrate.
“Where we’re positioned, we’re in the middle of where the SOEs are. You having an SOE to the left where Clarendon is, and then to the [north] in St Ann. So there’s really migrating criminals coming into the parish,” she said.
She added that the increase in scamming activities is also a factor.