KSAMC gives JPS street light deadline
But utility says 93% of bulbs working; some corridors fall under NWA
With 24 days left before the island's milestone 60th Independence celebration, the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) passed a resolution to seek the intervention of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to repair hundreds of dysfunctional street lights across the capital city.
The resolution was passed Tuesday during the corporation's monthly meeting in downtown Kingston. Councillors want to have the city optimally lit in time for the upcoming Emancipation and Independence celebrations in August.
During the debate, Jacqueline Lewis, councillor for the Norman Gardens division, strongly expressed her disgust. She said that at least 80 street lights in her division were not working. Reports had been made to JPS in January.
Lewis also brought with her the registration data of utility poles with dysfunctional lights.
“On Michael Manley Boulevard, there are 80 street lights that are not working. I did my research. We also had [a] citizen pen a letter to JPS,” the councillor said.
“... We would like to find out why is that the JPS must treat my division with scant regard. We are citizens. We are paying taxes and we need to know what is going on.”
Duane Smith, councillor for the Chancery Hall division in St Andrew North Western, added his voice to the chorus of complaint.
“No longer can JPS can say that they have an inability to fix the lights because the Government owes them money. The government of the day, through the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Local Government, should be commended for settling the enormous debt that was outstanding,” Smith said.
The motion for the street light repair resolution was moved by Councillor Andrew Swaby.
Swaby argued, during the debate, that concern about the maintenance of street lights was not new, as, in 2019, JPS was asked, in a previous resolution, to conduct two audits per year of street lights.
“Also, in the finance meeting, subsequent to that, we had moved a resolution to say that we should really hold back on 25 per cent of the money that is paid over to JPS until we get what is considered satisfaction,” he said.
“JPS has a moral duty because they are being paid to fix the street lights,” Swaby said.
Swaby also called for the KSAMC to ask JPS to produce a timetable for street light repairs.
In a response to The Gleaner late Tuesday, JPS said it has been working closely with the KSAMC to replace and repair street lights.
The light and power provider said that of the almost 29,000 JPS street lights in Kingston and St Andrew, about 2.5 per cent, or approximately 702, are currently not working. It said that repairs were ongoing.
But JPS said that the pace of its repair programme has been hobbled by global supply-chain issues.
“Like other areas of our operations, the repair of street lights has been impacted by the unavailability of parts and the longer-than-usual lead time required for our overseas supplier to deliver on orders,” Winsome Callum, director of corporate communications, said.
“We continue to grapple with the problem of street light theft. In many cases, as soon as lights are repaired, they go missing.”
The overall inventory of 29,000 street lights does not include the lights owned by the National Works Agency. These include lights along sections of Hope Road, Washington Boulevard, and Norman Manley Boulevard.
JPS said it is not responsible for the replacement and repair of these lights.