Bahamas ‘far beyond Wild Wild West’
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor:
The Bahamas will be “in major trouble within five years” if it fails to take immediate action to control its ever-expanding crime problem, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce’s president warning that last week’s Supreme Court break-in and armed robbery at FirstCaribbean’s Sandyport branch showed this nation was “far beyond being the Wild Wild West”.
Telling Tribune Business that the level of crime in the Bahamas, especially violent offences and armed robberies, was now the highest in his lifetime, Khaalis Rolle said many Bahamian businesses were now afraid to conduct commerce at night, as criminals seemed to have no fear of the law.
Arguing that guns were seemingly as commonplace as cars in the Bahamas, Mr Rolle said the FirstCaribbean armed robbery and high speed chase/shoot-out between the crooks and the police showed just what a lawless, dangerous society this nation had become.
“It’s extremely frightening to do business in this country now,” Mr Rolle said. “When you get to the point where the criminals have equal or better ammunition than the police, and have absolutely no fear of the law, what’s the alternative? What do we do?”
Recalling a reggae song that described Jamaica as a ‘Cowboy town’, the Chamber president added: “The Bahamas is far beyond a Cowboy town, the Wild Wild West. Every single day there is a report of some armed robbery or attempted armed robbery. The criminals just don’t have any fear of the law.
“I think about 10 years ago I spoke at a Toastmasters meeting, and I had a conversation with a politician. I said the Bahamas was becoming an increasingly dangerous society and something had to be done. His response was as if there was no concern, and we’re at the point now where businesspeople are extremely afraid to do business after dark.”
Pointing to the Supreme Court break-in at Justice Jon Isaacs’ office, Mr Rolle said this showed that “no place is off limits”.
“The criminals are so daring that they do what they want to do during the day, and the one entity where you’d have thought they would be off limits is no longer. The fellow broke into the courts. This is extremely serious,” the Chamber president added, pointing out that the implications went beyond just the immediate negative impact on business and the Bahamian economy.
Warning that it would “not be long” before travel advisories and media reports declared the Bahamas an unsafe destination, Mr Rolle added: “Everyone seemingly has a gun. Guns seem to be as ubiquitous as vehicles. Guns are everywhere; cars are everywhere. Gun crime is fare more pervasive than it has ever been in my life.
“The mindset has degenerated to the point where people do not believe there is a penalty attached to their actions, and if there is some penalty attached, people don’t care.”
Acknowledging that it was “easy to point the finger” of blame at the Government or Royal Bahamas Police Force for this nation’s crime problems, Mr Rolle told Tribune Business: “There’s a huge implication for society as a whole.
“I believe this problem goes far deeper, and if we do not resolve it now, or at least start taking preparatory steps to, we’re going to be in significant trouble in five years. In five years’ time, the Bahamas will not be the same Bahamas we see now.
“We’ve got some issues that are going to impact this country, and even though I speak on behalf of the business community, the implications far beyond. It goes back to deficiencies in the education system, deficiencies in the social system, and we have to address these deficiencies and do it proactively.”
August 03, 2010