‘Don’t pay JPS for our street lights’ – Mayor Harris
Montego Bay's mayor, councillor Glendon Harris, says the St James Parish Council will be requesting that the Ministry of Local Government does not pay any bills to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) for non-functional street lights in the parish.
"As a Council, we have taken a decision that we will ask the Ministry of Local Government not to pay the JPS for these non-functioning street lights, and to debit our bill that we owe to the JPS for these street lights for the time they are out," Harris said, while addressing a press conference council on Thursday.
The mayor, who is also chairman of the parish council, said that the JPS had recently made a commitment to repair several street lights across St James, but according to him, that promise has not been kept.
crime and violence
"As our records indicate, there are 11,540 street lights in the parish, registered with the JPS. Of this amount, 1,648 are currently out of service," said Harris. "We have been making representation to JPS to have these lights repaired, and particularly in some areas where we have high incidents of crime and violence, and where having functional street lights would mitigate some of the violence we have been having."
"In March this year, a total of 350 lights were repaired, and up until now, since then, no other lights have been repaired. Just last week they (JPS) indicated to us that they would commence repairs to some street lights, particularly in the city of Montego Bay. From all indications, we have not seen or heard of any lights repaired since that commitment," added Harris.
The St James Parish Council made a similar threat in 2010, where it declared that it would stop paying the JPS for street lights in the parish as many of them were not working. Following a meeting with the JPS, it was agreed that a programme would be put in place for the repair and maintenance of the parish's street lights. In April 2015, data provided from parish councils in response to an Access to Information request from The Gleaner, revealed that the St James Parish Council's street light bill stood at $269 million, in contrast to its general electricity bills which stood at just over $5 million.
In further commenting on the street light situation, Harris declared that the council would remain resolute in its stance not to pay for non-functioning lights.
"If we owe the JPS, then we owe them, and as long as life lasts, it is on the books and will be paid; but when the lights are not repaired for a protracted period and they still collect for the lights, then it is a disservice and a dishonest act on their part, and we are against all acts of dishonesty, lawlessness and criminality at this council," said Harris. "We have taken this stance and we will follow through on it to ensure that our bill is debited of the lights that are not functioning for the protracted period."