Again, Jamaica is sitting in stunned silence. Yet another brazen killing, this time of a prominent citizen, a selfless individual who dared to move past the realm of talking about the nation’s problems to finding and implementing what he believed were viable solutions.
Douglas Chambers, board chairman of the Jamaican Urban Transit Company (JUTC), died on the spot when he was shot multiple times at the company terminal on Friday afternoon when he stepped out of a meeting for a break. His assailants made well their escape. The details of the brutal murder are still sketchy, but it is alleged that the chairman had recently been threatened by an employee when the board went ahead with plans to make the company viable through downsizing. It is not known if police have so far located the individual who issued the threat.
Chambers had accepted the position, with the princely sum of one dollar per year as his remuneration. His main focus had been to put to rout the corruption running rife through this government-managed company, alleged to be a front for the distribution of spoils under the political pork barrel system at the public expense. Here was a Jamaican who served the national interest without the expectation of financial benefit, setting an uncommon example in an environment that has so clearly rejected his altruism.
This murder has raised the fear factor another notch in the society’s professional circles, where supervisory level and middle to upper management personnel are again being solemnly reminded of the risk factors facing them as they perform their duties. The impotence of the authorities in implementing effective measures to combat the crime crisis is fuelling despair and disgust in a nation so consumed by impatience and a growing lack of confidence in the leadership, its citizens are prepared to “draw blood” themselves.
There is every indication that the troublemakers are well-known to the authorities, given the plans for peace treaties to be signed by warring gangs, and the suggestions calling for warlords, druglords and dons to be cajoled into being the architects of peace in their communities. The criminal underworld surfaced a long time ago, and their best kept secrets are well-known all over the island. Yet they walk free and the grim figures continue to climb.
It seems as if the criminals are more organized and strategic in their vision than those charged to protect and serve. Until the authorities take charge of the situation and cease the pretence of ignorance regarding the source of this current wave of terror, they are just playing games.
There will be public space to mourn Douglas Chambers’ passing and to celebrate his selfless contribution in the interest of the nation. Right now however, we need to realize the hour for parlor talk is long past, even while the authorities appear perplexed, perhaps hopelessly gelded to the point of intertia by the fearsome prospect of the mammoth task facing them. That the prime minister and self-professed chief servant has been less than calculating, swift and decisive, is cause for grave concern.
Speaking of geldings, these are reputed to be more tractable, calmer and easier to handle for certain purposes than are the more spirited stallions.
Last time we checked though, Jamaica elected a Golding for Prime Minister, not a gelding.