Thu | Aug 6, 2020

Electricity theft a problem for inner-city residents too

Published:Saturday | July 18, 2020 | 12:21 AMAndre Williams/Staff Reporter
A section of Penn Street in Jones Town that has scores of illegal connections to the Jamaica Public Service line.
A section of Penn Street in Jones Town that has scores of illegal connections to the Jamaica Public Service line.

Inner-city residents are complaining that they, too, have to deal with electricity theft as persons living in their communities throw up wires on their legal connections leading to disruptions of electricity from the Jamaica Public Service (JPS).

That was the reality of one paying customer of Second Street in Jones Town who said tensions have been created in the space as a result of this unfair practice.

She said, “It’s unfair because me afi a pay for it, too.”

The residents of Jones Town admit that while some participate in illegal electricity usage, the practice is a cause for concern.

“My friend, she pay bill to enuh and more time fire gash right here suh (light post) and when yuh check it out is them around there throw it up on her connection,” the resident said.

The residents say they don’t see JPS’ crews too often in the area doing removal of illegal connections.

“Nuh really, only when rain fall and the transformer burst and it tek away the light and when that happen them tek all two days to come,” the resident told The Gleaner.

Many say they are inconvenienced because the majority of residents do not pay light bills.

A resident of the Maxfield Park community told The Gleaner that illegal connections have been the underlying cause of house fires in the area.

Our news team toured communities in east Kingston, Waltham Park, Maxfield Avenue and Olympic Gardens where we observed several obvious and concealed illegal connections.

Some residents were reluctant to speak on the issue of illegal electricity.

In recent weeks, there has been outrage over the revelation that the JPS passes on its losses resulting from theft to paying customers.

JPS bills ‘expensive’

A resident from Patrick Gardens, who asked not to be named, told The Gleaner that she was sympathetic to some people who accessed electricity illegally although she finds it unfair to paying citizens like herself.

She said that the JPS should not be charging extra to compensate for non-paying citizens.

“Bills from JPS are expensive and people cannot afford to pay,” she explained.

She added that the problem could be resolved if JPS simply chose to charge citizens at a reduced rate for electricity.

“JPS needs to sort it out. If you give the people a flat rate of $2,000 or whatsoever, people will try to pay,” she explained.

A Clarendon schoolteacher has been arrested in recent times for alleged electricity theft.

Reports are that on July 2, a JPS team conducted an audit at premises in May Pen. No meter was found at the location; however, there was a direct connection supplying the premises. Glenroy Williams, schoolteacher, was arrested. The May Pen police confirmed the report and told The Gleaner that Williams is to appear in court on Thursday, August 13.

Donjanelle Robinson contributed to this story.