Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Call the police! - Local government minister urges residents to look out for streetlight thieves

Published:Saturday | November 23, 2019 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Desmond McKenzie
Desmond McKenzie

WESTERN BUREAU:

Local Government Min­ister Desmond McKenzie has warned residents of St James and the wider Jamaica to be on the lookout for unscrupulous persons trying to steal the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) newly ­installed streetlights.

McKenzie gave the warning on Wednesday evening while addressing a town-hall meeting at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre, which was held as part of a series of activities to celebrate Local Government Month under the theme, ‘Building Resilient Communities through Local Government.’

“In discussions we had in Portland, in a meeting with councillors and members of parliament, the JPS indicated to me that people are stealing a number of new street lights. One of the ways they go about stealing the lights is that the truck will drive up and they climb the posts, and they say the light is not working, so they’re taking down the lights to have them wired,” explained McKenzie.

“I want to advise Jamaica that they don’t need to take the light off the pole to repair it, so anybody you see doing that, call the police because it is a thief taking the light,” McKenzie added. “The Government can’t be in an agreement with JPS to put up new lights, and then the people who are to benefit turn around and steal the lights. To replace them comes at a cost, and I’m urging the people in St James to support the lights because it’s your tax dollars that are paying for them.”

During a Gleaner Editors’ Forum in April this year, the JPS expressed concern about streetlight theft and the resulting risk to commuters’ safety after approximately 20 lights were stolen along the Hellshire main road some months earlier. According to the power company, the cost to replace the stolen lights is approximately US$200 (J$28,111.88) per lamp.

McKenzie also noted that of the estimated 12,000 streetlights in St James, the JPS has to date installed 10,200 brand new lights and repaired another 1,200.

“The JPS has so far installed 10,200 brand new streetlights, which is 85 per cent installation. They’ve also repaired 1,200 streetlights, and they are on target to complete the parish of St James, hopefully, before the end of the calendar year,” said McKenzie.