JPS removes more than 1,000 throw-ups in Manchester
Mayor says more must be done to add persons to the grid
For the month of June, the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has removed 1,301 throw-ups in several communities across central, south and northeast Manchester even as they seek to encourage residents to secure electricity legally.
However, Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell is of the view that there will always be issues of electricity theft, if JPS does not offer an affordable option to use the service legally.
“There are three communities in my division with this issue and the problem with this public private partnership is that these persons are a good distance from the line and they run the wire from point A to B,” Mitchell pointed out. He said that the residents could not afford the $2.1 million it would cost to regularise electricity by running wires and installing poles.
Mitchell, who was addressing the issue at the Manchester Municipal Corporation monthly meeting on Thursday, accused the rural electrification programme of playing politics with the needs of the people.
“The rural electrification [programme] is not up and running as they ought to and that is another situation because that is one of the places where a lot of politics is… I know how it goes. I used to be on the board… It’s not me, it’s politics that runs it,” he charged.
“I think JPS needs to look down the road… The lines are going to be there forever. If you are going to tell people that they must come up with $1.5 million, that doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
The municipal chairman chided JPS for viewing profit as more important than the needs of the people.
“You will always have the problem and you will not get to the point where people have [legal] electricity because that is the major problem that we have … I am not going to report anybody. You have a man with him little fridge, children going to school ... . JPS is in the business of making money but you will not get a return on investment at the same time, but over the years…” Mitchell contended.
Among the seven areas intercepted was the community of Craighead where 481, the highest number of throw-ups, were removed.
The other areas include: Comfort with 194, Hampton Road 134, Broadleaf 276, Colleyville 114 and Pike with 102 illegal wires removed.
Councillor of the Craighead Division Omar Miller said that if persons are interested in going on the grid, assistance should be given to them.
Meanwhile Quinn Shortridge, operations manager at JPS, said that the concerns would be addressed as best as possible along with other plans to improve the services.
He said that plans were under way to replace the low wattage bulbs with high-watt LED bulbs.
At a meeting of a joint select committee reviewing the Electricity Act 2015, JPS officials called on the Government to establish a special utility court to prosecute electricity thieves.
Senior company officials argued that no loss-reduction programme would be effective and sustainable without a high probability of offenders being caught and prosecuted.
Despite spending US$150 million in the last five years to reduce electricity theft, the JPS said it was incurring US$200 million in losses owing to illegal connections, with one in four customers illicitly abstracting power.
The company said, every year, approximately 200,000 households steal electricity.