Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Hope Pastures residents win appeal in JPS power line case

Published:Friday | October 23, 2020 | 3:08 PM
The Appeal Court ruled that the JPS is under is a statutory obligation to supply electricity by underground means once it is safe to do so.

Residents of a neighbourhood in Hope Pastures, St Andrew have won their appeal against the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) in the long-running case over the decision of the electricity company to demand that they assume the expense for their underground power distribution system.

In 2018, the residents took the matter to the Appeal Court after Chief Justice Bryan Sykes ruled that the JPS cannot be compelled to provide electricity to the community through underground cables at its expense.

Close to 100 residents had filed a lawsuit against JPS, claiming that in 1962, Parliament signed off on a system that mandated the utility company to provide electricity to their community through an underground system. 

They claimed, too, that the cost of implementing such a system was included in the purchase price they paid for their homes.

But in May 2018, Sykes dismissed the suit saying that Parliament, in approving the Hope Pastures Housing Scheme, made it clear that those residents who wanted their electricity supplied through an underground system would have to pay for it.

He indicated, too, that the document that gave effect to the scheme indicated that the cost of implementing the system, as well as other utilities, would have been negotiated with the relevant service providers and paid over after it was collected from residents.

However, the Appeal Court has said the JPS is under is a statutory obligation to supply electricity by underground means once it is safe to do so, pursuant to the provisions of the Hope Housing Scheme incorporated into Housing Law.

The Appeal Court also held that the provision of electricity by JPS by overhead wires to any part of the Hope Housing Scheme is a breach of the provisions of the statutory scheme of Hope Pastures as it now exists.

The matter will, however, have to now go to trial to determine the issue of safety and if there are to be changes to the underground distribution system.

A date for the hearing has not yet been set. 

Follow The Gleaner on Twitter and Instagram @JamaicaGleaner and on Facebook @GleanerJamaica. Send us a message on WhatsApp at 1-876-499-0169 or email us at onlinefeedback@gleanerjm.com or editors@gleanerjm.com.