No justification for JPS to close St Elizabeth branch
THE EDITOR, Madam:
Since March of this year, the people of St Elizabeth have been experiencing a lot of inconvenience due to the closure of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) office in Black River, St Elizabeth. The JPS has discontinued the in-branch services, causing confusion and inconvenience.
For the people of St Elizabeth, this is a travesty as they are now forced to travel all the way to Mandeville to conduct business with the JPS. Not only is this a nightmare to persons who are not digitally versed to conduct business online, but it is costly, and frankly, the branch in Mandeville cannot efficiently handle the customer load.
St Elizabeth is a large parish, and so the many customers are at a disadvantage; they are experiencing significant delays at the Mandeville branch, and some matters are not even being dealt with at all.
Winsome Callum of JPS has sought to justify the closure of the Black River office by quoting numbers showing a decline in visitors to the branch in the last six months of 2020. Need I remind the JPS that we are in a pandemic? So, of course face-to-face business will be impacted. Additionally, our senior citizens, many of whom utilise the in-branch services, have been under a stay-at-home order since March 2020.
This ‘justification’ presented by Miss Callum is not reflective of the general number of customer visits to the St Elizabeth office prior to the pandemic. I find it quite misleading to the public and unfair to the customers in the parish that the JPS has sought to use those mid-crisis numbers.
Additionally, the disruption in the relationship between the JPS and the people of St Elizabeth preceded this final disconnection. Over the years, St Elizabeth has consistently faced challenges by the JPS’ power fluctuations and have been plagued by low-voltage problems. These problems have also led to the disruption in the water supply, as they affect water pumps in the parish. So, there have been issues of both electricity and water due to the shortcomings of the JPS.
What this says to me is that, instead of packing up and leaving us in the dark, it would have been most appropriate that they retain a presence in St Elizabeth; ramp up the solution efforts; and repair the broken lines of communication and restoration.
I call on the powers that be at the JPS to reinstate their full services by reopening the JPS office in Black River, St. Elizabeth.
Member of Parliament
South Western St Elizabeth