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Streetlight debt mounts to over J$4b, JPS struggles to maintain network

Published:Sunday | August 14, 2016 | 5:27 PM
JPS president and CEO Kelly Tomblin

Electricity distributor, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), says the huge debt owed by government for streetlights is affecting its ability to properly maintain the service.

The JPS said it has repaired more than 12,000 streetlights across the island, but the government owes it over J$4 billion.

"The fact is, JPS simply cannot carry out repairs as quickly as we would like, without payment being made for streetlight service,” JPS President Kelly Tomblin said in a release this afternoon.

“It is a real challenge for any business to operate normally when the service provided is not being paid for. And, it must be noted that the J$4 Billion owed for streetlights does not include interest charges, which JPS is allowed to apply because we have to pay interest on our debts to our suppliers,” she stressed.

But Tomblin said the issues of safety and security are paramount for JPS, that is why it has spent J$140 million so far to repair streetlights, the bulk of which are located in the Corporate Area.

“We take the issues of safety and security very seriously, and we share the frustration of our customers when streetlights remain out for extended periods,” said Tomblin.

“That’s why we have been carrying out repairs despite being owed more than J$4 Billion by the Government for streetlights," she added. 

Further to the debt owed by government, the electricity distributor said illegal connection is another major problem affecting the proper functioning of streetlights.

Tomblin pointed out that illegal connections do significant damage to its infrastructure, the most recent example being a section of Maxfield Avenue in St Andrew where scores of residents were left in darkness due to the high level of illegal connections to streetlights.

“We are in discussion with the Government, the KSAC and parish councils, with a view to arriving at a sustainable solution to this problem,” she said.

“Until JPS gets paid for its streetlights, and until we get full support for our efforts to stop theft from streetlights, it will be very difficult for us to deliver an acceptable level of service to our customers,” Tomblin stressed.