St Thomas Municipal Corporation members accuse JPS of leaving the parish in darkness
Members of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation are accusing the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) of neglect, purporting that the service company has left the parish in total darkness.
In addition to over 500 reportedly blown street lights that remain unaddressed, the municipality is miffed about what was described as the agency’s total disregard of its monthly meetings and the lack of access to information with the shuttering of the JPS office in the locality.
Reporting on the estimated number of street lights in need of immediate attention in their divisions, the councillors shared the following: Llandewey, 120; Yallahs, 60; White Horses, over 100; Cedar Valley, about 70; Seaforth, 12; Morant Bay, 79; Bath, about 150; and Dalvey, 20.
While it was difficult to pinpoint those public bulbs that need to be replaced in the Port Morant and Trinityville areas, the representatives shared that they too have been subject to months of unmet requests from the power company.
Sharing on the matter, Mayor Michael Hue said, “We are not pleased with the response to non-functioning street lights in the parish and the removal of damaged or rotten poles. It has taken JPS a long time to address these. In fact, they have not addressed the many blown bulbs across the entire parish, even when constantly reported.”
Referencing a recent incident in the town, where one of the poles in the area fell, almost hammering residents, Hue told The Gleaner that the local council has written countless letters to the agency highlighting the many areas of concern, but to no avail.
Among other concerns shared by councillors, who unanimously agreed that there needs to be better representation from the power company in the parish, is the non-removal of old poles which they say are being neglected.
The mayor told The Gleaner that he is calling on the Government to withhold payments from the power company until “they provide the services they are being paid for”.
According to him, only then will their voices be heard.
In its response, JPS rubbished the claims of neglect reported by the council.
“This is simply not true. From our records, there are 3,819 approved street lights in St Thomas. Our records are showing that 97 per cent of these are functional,” shared Audrey Williams, JPS’s media and public relations manager.
She told The Gleaner that the team recently repaired some 96 lights within the areas of Dalvey, Bath, Llandewey, Port Morant, Prospect, Springfield, Trinityville, White Horses and Yallahs.
“We continue to monitor the lights and will conduct repairs on a monthly basis. We are also aware that there are some lights installed within the parish that are not in our database and have not been converted to the new smart LED street lights. We are currently making an assessment of those to allow for their conversion, and engagement of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to facilitate their inclusion in the general pool of street lights for the parish,” Williams noted.
Referring to the concern of limited access among residents, including the elderly, she said, “In addition to the customer care centre, which continues to be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week, JPS has restarted the mobile office as of last Wednesday and was located at the parking lot of the JPS Operations Office in Morant Bay. Notifications were also sent out. We will continue to support our customers in the parish via this mobile office and inform them when the mobile office will be in town.”
Williams also noted that, based on consultation, the agency is well represented at the various meetings of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation.
However, a check of the municipality’s attendance record revealed that with the exception of this month’s assembly, JPS was last present in July 2021.