Mon | May 29, 2023

Manchester councillors blast JPS for poor service, lack of representation

Published:Monday | May 15, 2023 | 12:48 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
A Jamaica Public Service Company crewman removes wires from a utility pole.

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

COUNCILLORS AT the Manchester Municipal Corporation have taken the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to task for what they consider the light and power company's inadequate service and a lack of representation.

The councillors indicated that their grouses, fuelled by the failure of a JPS representative to attend yet another monthly municipal meeting, make it difficult to adequately serve people in their divisions.

“Our problems here are like a recurring decimal, the same thing over and over, all because we don't have a representative. What we need is for this to stop. What we need is a representative sitting in this council listening to us, the councillor, that they can understand what we are dealing with,” said Desmond Harrison, councillor of the Christiana division during last Thursday's meeting of the municipal corporation.

Donovan Mitchell, mayor of Mandeville and councillor for the Royal Flat division, indicated that the policy directives and operational procedures at the JPS are often counterproductive, with less being done to appease its citizens.

“It causes more stress and distress on the citizens of Jamaica. There is an emergency and they're telling you to call and to log this and that. The street lights need to be repaired, and they are asking you if you have logged the information. It is the people's property taxes that support street light payments,” he noted.

Mitchell said a letter would be written to the president of the JPS detailing the municipal corporation's disgust at the service being offered by the company.

Broken poles

Among the issues highlighted by local government representatives were theft of the JPS' equipment and broken poles that are yet to be repaired.

“Now, this is a cause for concern because these areas are lonely areas ... . I made a report about it and I haven't seen anything done. I also made a report on a light post that is being held up by a gentleman's private line. I reported it to Manchester and Clarendon, and it is still there, and that is a cause for concern,” said councillor for the Porus division, Claudia Morant-Baker.

“I am disappointed just like my colleagues not to see the JPS here to make a personal report to them,” Morant-Baker added.

“We are requesting that JPS does some patrols in the Spur Tree division, where quite a number of poles are breaking. They are in a deplorable condition. I have been appealing to JPS for about a year and half to two years for the upgrading of the lines in Dunsinane Height,” said Ervin Facey, councillor for Spur Tree.

Hurricane season danger

With the hurricane season approaching, councillor of the Craighead division, Omar Miller, indicated that delays in addressing long-standing issues could prove detrimental.

“Some of (low hanging) wires you can actually touch it with your hand because of how low it is, and we have seen where reports have gone in several times and nothing to date has been done,” said Miller. “Same thing can be said for the street lights in the area that have been out for months.”

Miller said the parish has been shortchanged by the JPS because of poor service.

“Any time it reaches this stage where we are paying for the commodity and we are not getting that level of communication and support that we ought to be getting, we need to start thinking about holding some of that money and bring them to book so that we can get the service that the people demand from us,” he said.

Operations manager at the JPS, Devon Willis, indicated that no issue had been raised by councillors that has not been actioned or scheduled to be actioned.

“I have been in full communication with all the members of the Manchester Municipal Corporation. Any issues that they would have brought would have been documented and in the minutes that we have actioned and provided a report on,” Willis explained. “Anything that wasn't actioned within the period would have a timeline attached as to when it would be completed.”

Willis said he was unable to speak to why no representative had been present at the meetings but indicated that reports were prepared and submitted to the corporation.