Dark deeds - Lack of street lights provides cover for criminals in Central Kingston Police Division
Criminals, who are using the lack of street lights to commit crimes then escape undetected in the dark are holding residents of some communities in the Central Kingston Police Division hostage.
And with a street light bill of roughly $50 million monthly, neither the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), nor the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) foresee a fix to this problem any time soon.
Last week, sergeant David Lowe of the Kingston Central Police told The Sunday Gleaner that while 11 murders have been recorded in the division since the start of the year, there are reports that criminals are roaming the dark lanes and roadways, carrying out a string of hold-ups.
"It is definitely something that we have been in touch with KSAC about, and it is something that we continue work with them to rectify because it is a common complaint expressed by residents in the division," said Lowe.
His comments came following one of his monthly community meetings on John's Lane in Fletcher's Land recently.
Fletcher's Land, a sometimes volatile community in Central Kingston, has recorded no major crimes such as murder, shooting and rape(s) since the start of the year.
But residents complain that some roadways are blanketed by darkness at nights and criminals strike in these areas regularly.
The resident have urged the police to increase patrols in these areas in the predawn hours.
"That is the time unnuh fi come catch di bwoy dem; not inna day," shouted a female resident who claimed her shop was burglarised last month.
According to the residents, the street lights in John's Lane were destroyed by criminals over time.
Last Wednesday, Town Clerk Robert Hill told The Sunday Gleaner that John's Lane is one of several areas in downtown Kingston where residents have complained about a dearth of street lights and the impact this has on crime.
"... Love Lane, beside Ward Theatre; Southside, the top of Orange Street, Church Street, Duke Street, in the vicinity of Heroes Circle, and several other communities," said Hill.
"But it's not just in Kingston. Right across the island, there is a problem with damaged street lights.
"Some of them are long-standing damages, while others relate to persons wilfully damaging the lights," added Hill.
He noted that the JPS, by contract, is tasked with repairing damaged street lights, and that the cost of which is included in the monthly electricity bill, which is about $50 million.
"What it does is form part of the monthly bill. So you have a bill for the provision of light, but usually, there is a cost attached for repairs.
"You might not see a line marked for repairs, but the cost is usually included in there," said Hill as he noted that a growing percentage of the JPS cost to the KSAC is being attributed to repair works.
In the meantime, Ruthlyn Johnson, corporate communications officer at the JPS, explained that while the company erects and repairs street lights in Kingston on the request of the KSAC, residents will have to hold strain as many are damaged in the Corporate Area.
"If the light was there and they have to be repaired, then residents have two options. They can either go to the KSAC or come directly to us," said Johnson.
"But there is a long list of repairs to be done and sometimes it is a situation where they just have to join the line because the repairs will take a while to be done."