JPS ready board gives us legitimacy say Majesty Gardens residents
Residents in Majesty Gardens say that the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) Ready Board and Smart Meter Systems have changed their age-old practice of stealing electricity and have helped to give them legitimacy as citizens.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) introduced the ready board concept to the JPS based on a model that currently exists in parts of Africa.
The USAID agreed to fund the material cost for the assembly and installation of 400 ready boards in the Majesty Gardens community.
"I am safe from fire now that we have this ready board and the smart meter installed. My house was destroyed by fire sometime ago because we used to throw up wire," said Maureen Walker, a resident.
"I no longer need to steal light. Now, it's different because the smart meter is helping us to only use what we need, and in that way, we control our bill at a level we can afford," she said.
More than 300 ready boards have been installed throughout the community, and the JPS has connected more than 100 customers to date under the Ready Board Pilot Project.
The JPS agreed to fund the infrastructure cost of building pole lines in the community, along with the cost of installing the boards in the residents' homes through a partnership with Jamaica Social Investment Fund as the implementation agent.
"The project provides a safe, alternative way to access legal electricity for homes that would otherwise not meet the country's electrical code. Majesty Gardens is the most likely area where the ready board would make an immediate impact," stated Kathlyn Oliver, JPS business client relations manager for community renewal.
FEELING LIKE REAL CITIZENS
Majesty Gardens has a high concentration of self-constructed board houses that are not structurally sound and would not readily pass the Government Electrical Inspectorate's approval, she said.
"As you can see, around here is only board houses and a poor people live around here so, but it makes me feel more like a real citizen. At the same time, we happy for the ready board," Rachel Smith, another resident said.
An estimated 3,168 persons reside in Majesty Gardens, with an average of four persons per household, according to a Social Development Commission survey done in January 2009.
The community is characterised as having a high population density, the majority of whom live below the poverty line.