Porus not the same after December double murder
Crime, lack of economic activity hurting the people of Manchester community
This platform at the Porus Train Station in Manchester is where trains used to pick up and leave passengers. The space, for many years, has been left idle and practically abandoned. These days the location serves as a walking track for people in some communities who want quicker access to the Porus Main Road. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Almost two months after the December 9, 2022 murder of a Chinese supermarket operator and another man in Porus, Manchester, the shock and pain still felt by residents since the incident have been compounded by a decrease in the vibrancy of the community.

The murdered two were identified as Jin Sian Ye, a Chinese businessman and Alphanso Cohen, a vendor.

The Jamaica Observer visited Porus recently to get feedback from people who either live or do business in and around the area. As they began to explain their situation, it became apparent that a lot had changed since the double murder and robbery which also resulted in the injury of at least three other people.

When asked about the mood among the residents of Porus, one businesswoman who requested not to be named, uttered that, "Nobody nuh feel good about it".

"The place kinda dead now. Even me have a likkle driver weh do round town trips. He used to go down to the supermarket and when people buy groceries, he would carry them go to their yard. I just saw him and him seh since the man dead, everything dead. Mi nuh know if fear caused it. I don't know what it is but people not going to the supermarket like before," she added.

Another female businesswoman in Porus shared that she runs multiple businesses and used to source goods outside of Manchester. It was Ye who got her to start shopping in Porus, specifically at his supermarket. She lamented that since the incident, the area has been what she described as a ghost town by 7:00 pm each day.

"His supermarket serves people from Race Course in Clarendon all the way to Mandeville in Manchester. I used to shop in May Pen in Clarendon and I stopped shopping there and started shopping in Porus. He was very feisty but he knew how to do business. When he found out I was going to May Pen to shop, he asked why I passed his supermarket to go all the way to May Pen. I told him that he was too expensive. He asked what he was selling expensive.

"I wanted boxes of chicken back, which was around $1,350 for each box in May Pen but he was selling it for $1,550. I told him and showed him the receipt and he said, 'Let's do business. I will give you for $1350.' Whenever I wanted goods, I would just take up my phone and make my order and the goods come right here and I send my money. Other people have that kind of relationship with him as well, so it is not just me. He did not deserve that kind of death."

As she recalled the dreadful evening, she said the trauma from it intensifies whenever she remembers the rapid, loud explosions that rocked the air.

"We got to view his body and the family held a ceremony before he was cremated. According to his tradition, the ashes should go back to China. The situation is beyond sad. When I viewed his body, I cried. His wife wasn't fat and she still lost a lot of weight after he was killed. The police have developed a relationship with the family and they assist them. Since the incident I don't like the environment anymore.

"Porus was a place where people would be out here until after three in the morning and you never one day feel unsafe like this. Now, by 7:00 pm everybody a hustle up fi go a dem yard. Nobody wants to be on the road. It set Porus a way. Me even think fi install camera pon mi premises because you get to realise that the time has changed. That night was the first time I heard so much gunshots in my life. I was supposed to go up there before going home but while I was in my shop, I heard rapid bursts. It was very loud. Suppose you see how vehicle a backup pon di main road. Everybody tried to leave the road early."

A couple of weeks after the December double murder and robbery, the police slapped charges on four suspected of involvement in the killings. A member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force was initially implicated in the killings and robbery. The men were also charged with possession, stockpiling and trafficking of firearms. These charges which fall under the new Firearms Act, attract sentences upwards of 15 years imprisonment if convicted. They were hauled before the Gun Court on Tuesday December 20, 2022 and were remanded in custody until Thursday February 2, 2023.

According to police reports, a group of men entered the supermarket around 7:30 pm on December 9, robbing the owner and customers. Instead of just fleeing with the loot, the men opened gunfire on Ye and Cohen. The men were later intercepted and arrested in Williamsfield, Manchester. Inside the motor vehicle the men were travelling in, cops found an AK-47 assault rifle, two handguns with several rounds of ammunition, and a police ballistic vest.

As they reel from the murders, the people of Porus have called on the authorities to come up with a lucrative plan and execute it to turn an old abandoned train station there, into the centre of commerce and attraction for those who live and visit the area.

Some of the people who aren't old enough to have seen the train station in use are eager to see it come alive in their lifetime, even if it is no longer used as a train station, one woman suggested, adding that the space could beome a major market.

"I get excited by the stories weh people give me about the train station, like how people used to come out and sell oranges and other things and the place was buzzing. I would love for them to create a kind of attraction like a market around by the railway station. The place is dead," a female vendor told the Sunday Observer.

Many years ago, the space used to be where passengers would hop on or off a train. These days, it is merely a walking track for people in some communities seeking to gain quicker access to the Porus Main Road. Their vision is to see hundreds of people flock the space on a daily basis to shop and enjoy a fun experience.

Manchester residents are convinced that the Porus Train Station, which sits idle, should become the hub for commerce in the area. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Residents of Porus in Manchester want these idle tracks at the Porus Train Station transformed into a bustling market space to provide job opportunities and to boost commerce in the area. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Jason Cross

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