‘I never planned to use that office’

JUST over a month after a failed attempt to destroy the People’s National Party’s (PNP) constituency office in St Catherine South Eastern — in what seems the result of apparent disapproval for the selection of popular doctor Alfred Dawes as the party’s standard-bearer for the constituency — it is suspected that arsonists returned early Tuesday morning to once again torch the wooden structure.

This time they were successful.

The Jamaica Fire Brigade’s public relations officer, Emeleo Ebanks, told the Jamaica Observer that firefighters responded to the blaze and extinguished it after being alerted at around 2:00 am.

In response to the incident, Dr Dawes, who will seek to become member of parliament for constituency at the next general election, constitutionally due in 2025, on Tuesday told the Jamaica Observer it was “inconsequential”.

“It doesn’t affect me. It is inconsequential. I never used that office. I never planned on using that office. It has no bearing on my work whatsoever in the constituency,” Dawes said.

He expressed hope that the police will nab those responsible and haul them before the courts.

“I leave it up to the police to find out who the perpetrators were. My sympathy goes out to the owner of the building, but it has no bearing on my work which has been progressing quite nicely,” he said.

Dr Dawes added: “I am loving the reception I have been getting from majority of the constituency, the workers and the delegates. I am very optimistic about getting the election machine going. I am not allowing this to be a distraction and I would urge Jamaicans not to make it a distraction. We have a lot more issues of national interest, especially in Portmore, with the murders that have become commonplace. These are the things that I want us to focus on.”

When the Observer visited the charred office, two women urged the authorities not to stop until they nab the perpetrators.

“Somebody jealous! A jealous dem jealous. What is for a man is for him. They need to find the people doing these things. This did not just happen on it own. Somebody lined it up, fi burn it down. A inna di night it gwaan. Dem fi behave themselves and do the right thing. If three horses are in a race, one must win,” one woman said.

The other female resident said the structure existed for 40 years without any interference.

“Almost 40 years I live here. Around the time of Hurricane Gilbert, this place is here. Mi really sorry to see this because it nuh look good inna we community.”

One man, who is a supporter of the PNP, said he was almost sure that the fire was not set by supporters of any other political organisation.

“I don’t feel like it was anybody else. A just some internal thing going on same way. People nuh get weh dem want and are not pleased about it and so they are showing that they are disgruntled about it. This is tribalism, once place start to burn down.”

On Tuesday, Alric Campbell, who is deputy Mayor of Portmore, distanced himself from anyone who may have been responsible for the blaze Monday night.

“I condemn the act in the strongest possible terms. I have nothing to do with it, nor would I condone such an action. We are all Comrades at the end of the day, and no one benefits from such a villainous act. I am expecting swift action from the police to catch the perpetrators,” Campbell told the Observer.