Power play - Court rules against Hope Pastures residents in dispute with JPS
The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) cannot be compelled to supply electricity to scores of residents in Hope Pastures, St Andrew, through underground cables at its own expense, the Supreme Court has ruled.
"Goliath wins again," one resident, Michael Williams, told The Gleaner following the court decision.
The ruling was handed down by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes yesterday in a lawsuit filed against the JPS by close to 100 residents who contended that Parliament, in 1962, signed off on a system that mandated the utility company to provide electricity to their community through an underground system. They claimed, too, that the cost of implementing such a system was included in the purchase price they paid for their homes.
Williams said that the residents decided to take the matter to court after the utility company informed them that the system had become obsolete and estimated that they would need to fork out close to $41 million to replace it.
But Sykes, in his ruling, noted that Parliament, in approving the Hope Pastures housing scheme, had made it clear that those residents who wanted their electricity supplied through an underground system would have to pay for it.
He indicated, too, that the document that gave effect to the scheme had indicated that the cost of implementing the system, as well as other utilities, would have been negotiated with the relevant service providers and paid over after it was collected from residents.
"There is nothing in the document that even remotely suggests that this was free work, free service being provided by JPS. It had to be paid for," Sykes said.
He further ruled, "There is no authority for the Government to compel a provider of any service to provide it at his own expense to third parties. It doesn't exist, at least, not in this case."
The chief justice noted also that the document was silent on the issue of future repairs to the underground system.