No-movement days leave raft captains treading water
Raft captains who operate on the Rio Grande in Portland say the no-movement days have only succeeded in making their financial position weaker.
Lawrence Chisholm, president of the Rio Grande Raft Captains Association, told THE STAR that he, like many other raft captains, has not had a single customer since the no-movement days were announced.
Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Government instituted four consecutive weekend lockdowns, which began on Sunday, August 22 and will end on Tuesday, September 14.
“A mostly Saturdays and Sundays we get fi we business and a dat time a di lockdown," Chisholm said. "Most a the people dem woulda wah come pon Sunday or so, but Sunday a lockdown so nubady cyah come, everything affi cancel out.”
Chisholm told THE STAR if the current no-movement order continues, raft captains will "suffer and dead fi hungry".
The raft captain's lament came at the time of the controversial docking of a cruise ship in Ocho Rios, St Ann, on Monday despite it being designated a no-movement day in Jamaica.
Arrangements were been made to open a few attractions to accommodate the tourists. These include the government-owned Dunn's River Falls and Green Grotto Caves as well as private enterprises Mystic Mountain and Dolphin Cove, which are also attractions, and two shopping centres, Island Village and Taj Mahal.
Chisholm said that he is not surprised that raft captains have been overlooked for special treatment by the tourism authorities that bent the rules to cater to the 1,700 cruise ship visitors.
“We nah guh get nubady off a the cruise ship, we barely a get regular people. We used to get business from Ocho Rios and Montego Bay enuh, but all a that scale down,” Chisholm said.
The raft captain said that he and others who depended on the Rio Grande have had to resort to farming in order to keep afloat during these turbulent economic times.
“A some farming me deal wid right yah now, enuh. Mi a try see if me can put in wah couple pak choi," he said, while adding, “Only the mercy a God a guh save me right yah now, seriously."
"Bills a ride up pon we, some people have loan fi pay and loan a ride up.”