Wed | Dec 19, 2018

Utility companies neglect West End

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM


The story of West End, Negril, and its angry residents did not only start with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), but with three other major companies: Digicel, FLOW Jamaica, National Water Commission (NWA) and, of course, JPS.

Many Jamaicans who don't live in the area called last week's demonstration unnecessary, but protest was inevitable for West End.

NWC: Every high-tourist season, West End experiences low water pressure because NWC prioritises their water supply to the hotels. We, the residents, have kinda got used to it but in 2017 we experienced little to no water in West End, Negril, for months. We, the residents, got furious and plan to demonstrate if the NWC doesn't address the current situation. Luckily the protest was put off because a rep from NWC met with us and explained why there was a water shortage.

Digicel: Earlier in the year, we experienced a major power outage. Many poles with Digicel supply lines transmitting broadband service were down, including the one in West End, Negril. Within weeks, all the poles with relevant cables were fixed, except ours. We contacted Digicel and we were informed that the pole was being worked on for seven months. We had no broadband service, and Dream Weekend was fast approaching. It would have been a major blow to residents who rent rooms with free Wi-Fi service to partiers. A small group of us decided to protest, but three days before Dream Weekend, Digicel fixed our pole, so the protest was cancelled.

FLOW Jamaica, Negril branch: During our seven-month ordeal with Digicel, many of us turned to FLOW as an Internet alternative, but we were told that there was no space available on its broadband service. Rumours began circulating that FLOW was reserving their broadband services for high-end customers. I didn't believe any of it until I met my neighbour, who had just moved in. He applied for FLOW's Internet service without having any before and got through immediately. It is so coincidental that he is a manager of a major hardware store in Negril.

We decided to protest in front of the Negril. office, but Digicel reconnected our Internet service in time. I think FLOW Jamaica should investigate its Negril branch.

JPS: What more can I say that the media have not covered for months? We have been complaining about dysfunctional electrical wires. For those who don't know, West End is directly facing the Caribbean Sea, so our power lines easily get corroded from the sea salt. On December 12, disaster struck. A JPS wire burst and electrocuted two persons. Christmas is a time of happiness. Imagine spending Christmas without a loved one.

Protest was inevitable, but there are signs of hope for us. NWC is fixing the annual low water pressure supply that we always experience, JPS is checking all their lines for corrosion, the Government is addressing our police force situation. FLOW and Digicel had better step up their game.