'MoBay can be paradise'
Aubrey Stewart, the youngster from Albion Lane in Montego Bay, who in 2015 introduced Barack Obama during town hall at the University of the West Indies, Mona, says he is hurt by the gun violence that has been ripping through the western parish.
Some 130 persons have been murdered in St James since the start of the year. In neighbouring Hanover, murders have doubled when compared to last year, and Westmoreland is also bleeding.
"What is happening now in MoBay, gang violence, is nothing new. I believe the inability to resolve disputes is what the main cause of crime is. If we were able to deal with our differences in a positive way, then we wouldn't have such a high turnover in crime," said Stewart, a Jamaica House Fellow.
Stewart, who is the founder of the Youth Organisation for Upliftment, a voluntary umbrella organisation for youth development in Montego Bay, has been making strides towards a better Jamaica and a better future from a tender age.
"I don't believe that there is any one short term thing that can be used to fix crime. Crime is a social and cultural phenomena and in order to have any social or cultural shift, it takes time," said Stewart.
He believes that if the police and the citizens develop a relationship then there will be positive changes in the crime rate over time.
"Montego Bay is one of the best places to live. Do I believe that St James can be paradise? Yes, I believe that St James is paradise. But what it takes now is the removal of the negative things that we have," Stewart said.
The national ambassador for the National Youth Service has called on members of the community who have information about criminal activity to speak up and speak out.
"I would encourage the gentlemen out there just to stop because at the end of the day, we are hurting one another and it's important for us to progress together and if we are not able to progress together, than that's a big problem," he said.
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament for Central St James, Heroy Clarke said that it will take a collaborative effort to get rid of the scourge that is taking over not just St James, but the entire island.
He reasoned that crime in St James is directly linked to economics.
"The more hotels are being built, the more person have migrated to the area with the aim of getting a job, not necessarily that they are going to get one but they still have to survive somehow and because of that it lends great support to criminal activities," he said.