Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) president Gregory Aboud says the association is “very hopeful” about the meeting held Thursday between Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to deal with new anti-crime measures.
“If they can’t get together regardless of their situation in the House of Representatives, then what will they get together about? So it is unequivocally a hopeful sign,” Aboud said.
In an interview aired last night on TV6 News, Aboud said, however, the solution for dealing with crime in east Port of Spain and the country is the arrest and successful prosecution of those who are committing murder.
“You can’t tell me that a man is going to murder two children in George Street in broad daylight, shooting one of them more than 15 or 20 times and never be called to account,” Aboud said.
DOMA has a membership that is comprised of businesses in downtown Port of Spain, some of which are very close to parts of east Port of Spain, which suffered a spate of homicides last week.
As he spoke of the need for increasing the homicide-detection rate, Aboud drew a comparison to Jamaica’s capital city, Kingston.
“I do not want to point out Jamaica as an example with any sense of disparaging their own accomplishments, but let’s be very brutally honest, they have a problem that precedes ours and we know what happened and we know that in trying to create options for a new city centre outside of downtown Kingston, that also failed.
“New Kingston did not succeed and the answer is really to hold people accountable for taking human life,” Aboud said.
About said the “activity in east Port of Spain has already had some effect” on the downtown business district.
“But it has not daunted our hopes,” he said.
Aboud also said it was the four homicides which occurred at Duncan Street last week in a 24-hour period that “caused a reaction”, as he referred to the visits there by Persad-Bissessar and Rowley last week.
He said the approach is nothing new.
“The fact of the matter is that we well know that it is the Government’s promise, successive governments’ promise, to these very people that has kept them in this bondage. The Government’s making promises to certain individuals and giving bigger grants and bigger gratuities and bigger patronage to certain individuals and making promises to them in exchange for promises about peace so that they wouldn’t have the political pressure of all this crime that has caused this problem,” Aboud said.