Manchester councillors lash JPS

MANDEVILLE, Manchester – Councillors in this south-central parish continue to express their disappointment with what they consider poor communication and the continued lack of a representative from electricity provider Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) here to address concerns.

One by one the councillors gave JPS a tongue-lashing on Thursday for allegedly showing scant regard to complaints from the public and for a perceived lack of accountability in failing to attend municipal corporation meetings to answer questions.

Mayor of Mandeville Donovan Mitchell, while mentioning that a report was sent to the municipality by JPS, accused the power company of poor representation.

“Their policy directives and changes have caused more stress and distress on the citizens of Jamaica. There is an emergency and they are telling you that you are to call and log this and log that and log all sort of things. The street lights need repair and they are asking if you have logged it and sent it in. It is the people’s property taxes that supports street lights and the payments there to, and I am still wondering what avenues [to take],” said Mitchell.

He complained that the change in direct payment for street lights from the municipal corporation has left the authority with limited power.

“We need to write to the president of JPS and copy the minister [Desmond McKenzie] to say that we are not getting the quality representation that is needed to give answer to citizens and to ask that they step up the game… There was a time when the municipal corporations would be responsible for paying the street light bill, that has been removed from us and is being paid by the central ministry,” he said.

Councillor Desmond Harrison (Jamaica Labour Party [JLP], Christiana Division) questioned the logic of continuing to debate on the absence of a JPS representative from the monthly meetings.

“Who do we call? Who do we speak to? No wonder we have a problem. No wonder we are here saying the same thing over and over. What we need is for this to stop. We need to see a physical representative sitting in this council and listening to us the councillors that they can understand what we are dealing with out there… What are we going to do? Continue and come here next month and write again?” he asked.

Councillor Claudia Morant-Baker (JLP, Porus Division) said the theft of street lights is also concerning.

“On the Harmons Road a car stopped, [a man] put up a ladder, climb on the post [to] take down the light. A gentleman passing asked him what he was doing and he told him that he was fixing the light. By the time he [passer-by] came back he realised that the light was gone. This is a cause for concern and these areas are lonely. I made a report on it and I have not seen anything been done about it. Also I made a report on a light post that is being held up by a [resident’s wire] and that is a cause for concern, so I am disappointed, along with my colleagues, not to see the JPS here today to make a personal report to them,” she said.

Councillor Omar Miller (JLP, Craighead Division) accused JPS of “short-changing” its customers.

“As we are approaching the hurricane season there are several light poles within my division with wires you can actually touch with your hand. Reports have gone in several times and nothing to date has been done. There are street lights that have been out for months. I know, through this good office, we have done well as it relates to property taxes, which I know contributes to the payment of street lights, and I am not happy because I believe that we have been short-changed as it relates to the service from this company,” he said.

“We are the ones who get the bashing to say we are not doing our jobs, and persons won’t recognise that [JPS] is a private entity… Any time it reaches this stage, where we are paying for the commodity and we are not getting that level of communication that we ought to be getting, we need to start thinking about pulling some of those monies and bring them to books so that we can get the service that the people demand of us,” added Miller.

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