Above Rocks residents frustrated with blackouts
RESIDENTS OF Above Rocks and the adjoining Retirement community are now experiencing regular power outages that are causing untold discomfort for them, as the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) continues to search for solutions to stem the...
RESIDENTS OF Above Rocks and the adjoining Retirement community are now experiencing regular power outages that are causing untold discomfort for them, as the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) continues to search for solutions to stem the widespread theft of electricity by persons in these areas who are hell-bent on abstracting the commodity by illegal means.
Residents told The Gleaner that they have been experiencing outages that sometimes last for up to a week, causing spoilage of their frozen foods and affecting the Internet services that are very important to online classes and the charging of their devices.
The JPS has acknowledged the problem with the service and said the outages being experienced are largely because of illegal connections and vegetation coming in contact with power lines.
“I am facing a serious challenge with the power cuts, as they come and fix the light, we don’t have any power down by Retirement. It overloads and it goes off. Sometimes it is gone for three days; last month it went for a week,” revealed Maureen Smith who lives in the community.
“Two times now, I have to throw away everything in the fridge because it spoiled. It is very inconvenient for me. After all this, when the bill comes, it is more than what I use, even though I try to use less, but it’s going up instead,” she asserted.
School nurse at the St Mary’s College in Above Rocks, Avis McKay Patrick, said when the students are supposed to tune in to their work, the light goes and the Internet with it. And, even if the students and teachers are able to put data on their phones, there is not enough charge to continue.
“It impacts differently when we have exams to do. In the middle of the exams, everything just go. So we are not sure if it compromised the exam but we try to reach out to the teachers who are understanding and they will help to give resits.”
McKay Patrick disclosed that, last Sunday night, her re-registration examination was affected by the power cut. According to her, she has lost two certificates because she wasn’t able to complete the examination because of the fact that the light went off in the middle of the webinar.
Vice-principal at the school, Annmarie James Pusey, told The Gleaner that the outages are affecting the school’s online programme.
“Students and teachers involved in the online programme are challenged by the constant power outages. However, what we are trying to do is to get a bigger generator at the school.
We currently have one but it can only run the office when the power goes out. So yes, we are affected by these outages,” James Pusey said.
Small poultry farmer Donovan Brown said he was saved from a big loss last week by the kind deed of a neighbour who lent him a small generator to run his refrigerator to avoid spoilage of some 300 pounds of chicken that he had just prepared for market the following day.
“Just as I finished plucking the chickens, the light went out. Luckily, my neighbour had a generator I could borrow or else I could not survive this loss,” he stated.
Communications director at the Jamaica Public Service Company, Winsome Callum, meanwhile told The Gleaner that the company is taking steps to address the issue but is facing significant challenges with the illegal lines being replaced, even after repeated removal by the technicians.
The company was forced to initiate a transformer protection pilot project to protect its equipment from huge unpredicted overloads that has cost the company more than $1.6 million because of illegal connections by some residents in the St Johns Road area of Spanish Town alone that destroyed seven transformers since the start of the year.
The Office of Utilities Regulation, however, indicated that it was blindsided when the light and power company implemented the transformer protection programme without providing prior notice or information to them.
As a consequence, the nation’s utility oversight body subsequently directed the JPS to suspend the programme for 90 days from October 15, to allow it to complete its investigation and publish its report.