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JPS gets failing grade in Hope Pastures

Published:Saturday | November 28, 2015 | 11:00 AM

JPS gets failing grade in Hope Pastures

SONIA AARONS

saarons210@gmail.com

Linstead, St Catherine

It is with keen interest that I follow problems that residents of Hope Pastures, St Andrew, have experienced because of the Jamaica Public Service Company's (JPS) action in their community.

The Government of Jamaica that used The Hope Estate in 1962 to develop Hope Pastures as a unique model community with underground utility service was so desirous of maintaining the aesthetics and integrity of the scheme that a specific gazetted grant of easement was given to the JPS in 1962 to fix or replace the underground electricity supply without costs to the residents. JPS accepted this.

It is interesting that since 1962, JPS failed to admit to the residents that it laid the raw underground cables without conduits, completely and falsely placing that blame on the developers. JPS also failed to admit to the residents that its operation licence allows them to replace the underground system, yet these deliberate omissions did not prevent them from collecting billions of dollars for 53 years from its use.

These failures of admission made some residents feel that they had no choice but to accept overhead connections. It seemed that it was only after going to court recently that JPS's amnesia cleared up and now it admits laying the cables and taking responsibility for the underground system.

FAILURENOT SYSTEM'S

It is now claiming that the underground system is failing and needs to be thrown out, not replaced, but the failure is not with the underground system but with the JPS. It failed to properly install the underground cables with conduits to protect the cables from the bacteria and earth that significantly contributed to the decay of the cables. JPS failed to admit this to the owners at the outset and that they got much less than they paid for.

JPS has chosen to start installing a cheap, unsafe overhead power supply that is not weather or theft resistant and is charging residents to connect to this supply, a system that has already suffered failures and fires since its installation months ago. From observations, Hope Pastures' underground system has been safe and never been subject to theft or to fallen poles from hurricanes.

Electricity is a valued commodity and we recently saw on television where JPS, on Heroes Day weekend, held blocks of Hope Pastures residents at ransom, with a forced change of direction of power supply (that was not approved by the General Electricity Inspectorate) or face disconnection from the system. Some residents are still without power. Was this a choice or an act of monopolistic brutality?

CUSTOMERS NOT VALUED

Individual residents were treated like residents in a strata community and not like residents who have individual contracts with the company. Some residents who were away from home returned to find their supply disconnected without their consent. Has JPS forgotten the value of customers? Has anyone driven through Hope Pastures recently and seen how JPS has devalued the Hope Pastures community with unsightly wooden poles and wires? Where is the Office of Utilities Regulation in all of this?

So, who are Hope Pastures residents? These are loyal JPS customers, many retired, sick, bedridden and aged, who are not valued by the company, who pay their electricity bills and who, in the face of that, still get deliberately disconnected from their electricity supply because JPS apparently does not want to spend the money to fix the underground system.

Recall in 2014 when another entire community was deliberately disconnected from its electricity supply because some of those residents were not paying for electricity? This outrageous act is just another example of how far the JPS has failed and disrespected loyal customers.