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Letter of the Day: Tackle funds leakage from JPS street lights

Published:Friday | April 15, 2016 | 4:02 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

There was a recent report that the Minister of Local Government and Community Development is planning to meet with the representatives of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to discuss the current arrangements regarding street lights.

The article revealed that the JPS is in fact, owed in excess of $3.7 billion for street lights, presumably by the Government and not by private households and commercial customers. One can suppose that receivables owed to the JPS by private counterparties are being managed along standard commercial lines, and hence this $3.7 billion represents monies owed to the JPS by the Government.

Now then, should the minister be going to reprimand the JPS, or should he instead assume a conciliatory stance as he seeks concessionary credit terms?

Waste in any form by anyone, including those with deep pockets, is bad and perhaps even immoral. But losses due to government mismanagement or ineptitude is unacceptable, and especially in this period of austerity, no government authority can afford any inefficiency and preventable loss.

I feel that I am on firm footing if I suggest that part of that bill owing to the JPS is because of street lights that are consistently on during daylight hours. And is it the JPS, or is it the local authorities, that have the responsibility for regulating the use of public street lighting?

For sure, if the JPS installed timing or solar apparatus as the minister may wish to say, that would be a saving grace. But my empirical observation over the past several months traversing varied communities in St Andrew and Kingston, the corridor from Windward Road to Harbour View and onward to Morant Bay and hamlets in St Thomas; and throughout St Catherine, Clarendon, and Manchester as I journey on to Mandeville, Gutters and southeastern St Elizabeth reveal a common sad state of affairs.

 

NEEDS TO STOP

 

A great many of the street lights are on at daytime, consistently and regularly.

If the minister were himself to say it, I would agree that this damn foolishness needs to stop. We cannot afford this leaking of funds which the Budget sorely needs to deploy elsewhere.

While I must leave the technical solutions to the experts, I would suggest the following:

- Since all or most lamp posts and street lights have an affixed unique reference number, and since the JPS would have an inventory of all of its lamp posts, a starting point would be for the JPS, and indeed, the ministry to have an interest in being advised when these street lights are blazing during the days. A public education campaign could go out for citizens to report when the lights are on during daylight.

- Along with toll-free numbers, an app could be designed and promoted to the public to allow for the easy reporting of the problem.

- And the next step is a logical one. The JPS deploys its crews to deal with the matter, and the ministry can also track same. The log of these reports should be in the public domain for all to see.

CHRISTOPHER PRYCE