THE Easter Monday shooting that left five people in hospital has left many in the Montagu Beach area voicing concerns – and with good reason.
As one local said, if there is a regular police presence at Arawak Cay, shouldn’t there be the same at Montagu Beach?
Take a trip down to the beach in the daytime and you will see it is a busy area – lots of people taking lunch breaks by the sea, visitors enjoying the beach and the fort, and it appears in recent years to have become more popular still.
Add in the number of AirBNB users seeking out a quieter, nearby beach rather than the traditional beaches near the major hotels, and it’s clear the area has a lot of people passing through each day.
Fortunately, the Easter Monday shooting is very much out of character for the area – but listening to vendors and patrons yesterday, there are plenty of other concerns.
Several people spoke about not feeling safe – one vendor pointing out that a number of fish cleaners in the area have knives and that sometimes fights break out.
Another vendor spoke of the same, saying: “I lost a lot of customers especially when they are fighting, they have to run and sometimes they have to come back for their bag. Good thing I’m not a thief they have to come back for their bag and phone.”
Further along from the beach, there is the ramp, and concerns have also been raised about the number of fish vendors are selling from there.
Driving through the area during the day, you will routinely see vendors trying to flag down customers passing on the road and if you pull in or pass through on foot, the hustle begins to try to get you to buy from them.
It is not over-reacting to the Easter Monday shooting to take the time to assess whether or not things can be done better than they are at present.
With the number of people in the area, a regular police presence would not be amiss – especially if it’s a mobile unit that can also respond to other alerts in the area. Positioned there, police would have quick access to Village Road, Eastern Road and Shirley Street for responding to emergencies.
Regular users and tourists would gain the benefit of feeling safe in the area, knowing police were regularly on site – and that in turn might further help to boost the economy there. People who don’t feel safe don’t come back – people who do feel safe become regular visitors.
More than that, it is also worth asking if the fish vendors on the ramp are in the right place or whether they should relocate.
Beyond the hassle of passers-by, the area has no facilities for keeping fish refrigerated or to shelter from the sun – would another area be better for both the sellers and for the quality of product they sell?
Why not send them all back to Potter’s Cay so there is one central location for buying fish? A single centre will become a focus for customers, benefiting both buyers and sellers. It will also ensure proper facilities are available at a single location. They do the same in other countries, so why not here?
These are all worthwhile questions to ask – but more than anything, we all want one goal. We want no repeat of Easter Monday’s shooting. At the time of writing, one woman is in critical condition, and four men are in stable condition. We sincerely hope they make a full recovery – and we also hope that steps are taken to ensure such an incident never happens again.