Business Back To Normal After Recent Violence
LIFE along the busy Chaussee Road is returning to normal after the spate of fatal shootings in the capital.
In the first two weeks of April, Chaussee Road became a killer strip attracting curious crowds to view dead bodies, the victims of the island’s latest round of gang and gun violence.
Over the years, the expansion of commerce in the capital has pushed many residential homes out of the area, but Chaussee businesses had mixed reactions to the violence and its effects on their operations when contacted by THE VOICE this week.
Several businesses along the street were forced to cease operations temporarily as a result of the violence. There were other effects as well, like the trauma caused to persons working and living in the area, including persons employed at the Castries Health Centre engaged in offering services to the public.
In fact the Ministry of Health has had to change the way it operates as a result of the violence. The Ministry last Friday noted that during the period April 10 to Friday April 17 general medical clinics offered at the health centre on Chaussee Road will be offered elsewhere.
“This temporary change in health service provision is to facilitate the revision of security arrangements to ensure the safety of clients and staff of the Castries Health Centre,” the Ministry said in a statement.
Last Friday persons who usually visited the Chaussee Health centre to receive the services offered at the clinic there were re-routed to the La Clery Wellness Centre.
From the commencement of this week general medical clinics previously scheduled for the Castries Health Centre and its daily pharmacy services were shifted to the Entrepot Wellness Centre.
Child health, ante-natal, post-natal and cancer screening clinics, which serve children, pregnant women and women of child bearing age were being offered from the La Clery Wellness Centre from Monday.
In addition, the diabetes and hypertension clinic is being offered today at the Entrepot Wellness centre.
Errol Cyril, proprietor of North/South Enterprise, who operates a Rubis gas station on Chaussee Road, said that business has not been affected by the violence. But he lamented the absence of a heavy police presence in front of the gas station in recent times, recalling earlier times when police regularly patrolled the area.
“The changing of the guards actually used to take place right in my yard. Since that stopped the violence has escalated,” Cyril said.
Another business owner on Chaussee Road, who asked that his name and that of his enterprise not be published as a precaution , agreed that recent incidents had had no marked effect on his business .
“Not that I am afraid. I just prefer that my name and that of my business not be mentioned. I could tell you, however, that some business owners will use the violence as justification for saying that business is slow for them, but really and truly business continues to be the same,” he said.
He said that several persons entering his shop to do business spoke of trying their best not to use Chaussee Road.
A female employee at another store close to where James Alexander Nelson became the fourth homicide victim , said that she has been working on the Chaussee for 28 years.
“I have seen the results of criminal acts. At one time the shootings used to take place on lower Chaussee Road, now it’s in our vicinity. I have gotten used to it so much that I am not afraid working in the area”, she said.
Armed police officers were seen yesterday carrying out some sort of exercise, which involved talking to residents inside Wilton’s Yard, a well known trouble spot off the Chaussee Road.
Chaussee Road has been the scene of several fatal shootings over the years and has featured in gang shootings and other forms of violence as far back as the 1980s. However in recent times the violence has been concentrated around the upper part of the busy road.
It appears that the shootings are not random shootings, although innocent bystanders, on occasions, have been wounded, some fatally.
The Wilton’s Yard community, which has its entrance along Chaussee Road, has been a hotbed of gun violence recently and in the past.
Just last week the first homicide to occur for the year took place mere yards from the area. Shot dead, presumably accidentally, was 49-year-old vagrant Anthony “Tony” Harris.
Also last week, the third homicide victim for the year, 48-year-old Asher “B.J.” Emmanuel succumbed to his injuries on a Chaussee Road sidewalk.
The fourth homicide victim, 43-year-old Nelson was shot and killed on the sidewalk near Courts show- room on Chaussee Road last week, again mere feet from the entrance to Wilton’s Yard.
Armed police can be seen on almost a daily basis patrolling upper Chaussee Road opposite the health centre.