St James? No way! - outsiders fear 'murder parish'
Despite the allure of opportunities, some persons say the fear of the crime monster in St James, particularly Montego Bay, has driven them from ever thinking about living or staying in the parish for an extended period of time.
More than 320 persons were murdered in the parish in 2017.
Harold Thomas, who is from Manchester, said having heard stories of violence about the parish in the media and from persons who live there, he is always hesitant to visit.
"Me have a sister weh live dung here and mi not even like visit har to how dung yah set up. Mi no want tan inna MoBay too long. Me not even a walk pon nuh road dung here. Wah day ya, me come down here and mi sister tell mi fi walk come out pon di main, mi affi ask har if she mad," he told The Western Star.
UP UNTIL 2011
Samantha Johnson, who used to live in Hanover and attended school in Montego Bay up until 2011 when she moved to Kingston, said she has felt safer while travelling there than when she had to move around in St James.
"I live in Kingston now and I can tell you, it is much safer than when I use to live down this side [St.James]," she said.
While, attending Mount Alvernia High School and later Montego Bay Community College, she says she was robbed regularly by hoodlums who targeted her as she walked along the road.
"When we a lef school, we just affi just prepare we mind say we ago get rob. A wul heap a phone and money mi lose, so we use to affi walk inna groups and fight off di boy dem," she explained.
Meanwhile, Ricardo Magnus, who works as a contractor at a number of hotels, and travels to the parish at least twice every month from his home in St Thomas, says he is very vigilant, whenever he is in St James.
"A just wah day yah mi a watch news and some man drive up inna di traffic and tun it on pon some man weh did inna a car a di stop light and a no di first me a hear bout something like that," he said.
"Dem man yah weh a kill people dung ya no care who waan dead. Is like dem just love see people run up and dung, plus when dem a kill, dem a kill everybody," he continued.
However, Ian Stanford, 53, who has been living in St James since he was born, said that despite violent confrontations increasing in recent times, he has never felt as if he would lose his life to violence.
"MoBay bad yes, but crime deh every weh inna Jamaica.Yu can deh anyweh and dead. Yu just affi pray and ask God fi protect yu," he said.