‘Don’t pay JPS for our street lights’ –

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPCIAL - Christo­pher Thomas Gleaner Writer

Mayor Har­ris

WESTERN BUREAU: MON­TEGO BAY’S mayor Coun­cil­lor Glen­don Har­ris says the St James Parish Coun­cil will be re­quest­ing that the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment does not pay any bills to the Ja­maica Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­pany (JPS) for non-func­tional street lights in the parish.

“As a coun­cil, we have taken a de­ci­sion that we will ask the Min­istry of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment not to pay the JPS for th­ese non­func­tion­ing street lights, and to debit our bill that we owe to the JPS for th­ese street lights for the time they are out,” Har­ris said, while ad­dress­ing a press con­fer­ence coun­cil on Thurs­day.

The mayor, who is also chair­man of the parish coun­cil, said that the JPS had re­cently made a com­mit­ment to re­pair sev­eral street lights across St James, but ac­cord­ing to him, that prom­ise has not been kept.

CRIME AND VI­O­LENCE

“As our records in­di­cate, there are 11,540 street lights in the parish reg­is­tered with the JPS. Of this amount, 1,648 are cur­rently out of ser­vice,” said Har­ris. “We have been mak­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion to JPS to have th­ese lights re­paired, and, par­tic­u­larly, in some ar­eas where we have high in­ci­dents of crime and vi­o­lence, and where hav­ing func­tional street lights would mit­i­gate some of the vi­o­lence we have been hav­ing.”

“In March this year, a to­tal of 350 lights were re­paired, and up un­til now, since then, no other lights have been re­paired. Just last week, they (JPS) in­di­cated to us that they would com­mence re­pairs to some street lights, par­tic­u­larly in the city of Mon­tego Bay. From all indi­ca­tions, we have not seen or heard of any lights re­paired since that com­mit­ment,” added Har­ris.

The St James Parish Coun­cil made a sim­i­lar threat in 2010, where it de­clared that it would stop pay­ing the JPS for street lights in the parish as many of them were not work­ing. Fol­low­ing a meet­ing with the JPS, it was agreed that a pro­gramme would be put in place for the re­pair and main­te­nance of the parish’s street lights. In April 2015, data pro­vided from parish coun­cils in response to an Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion re­quest from The Gleaner re­vealed that the St James Parish Coun­cil’s street light bill stood at $269 mil­lion, in con­trast to its gen­eral elec­tric­ity bills, which stood at just over $5 mil­lion.

In fur­ther com­ment­ing on the street light sit­u­a­tion, Har­ris de­clared that the coun­cil would re­main res­o­lute in its stance not to pay for non-func­tion­ing lights.

“If we owe the JPS, then we owe them, and as long as life lasts, it is on the books and will be paid; but when the lights are not re­paired for a pro­tracted pe­riod and they still col­lect for the lights, then it is a dis­ser­vice and a dis­hon­est act on their part, and we are against all acts of dis­hon­esty, law­less­ness and crim­i­nal­ity at this coun­cil,” said Har­ris. “We have taken this stance and we will fol­low through on it to en­sure that our bill is deb­ited of the lights that are not func­tion­ing for the pro­tracted pe­riod.”

BARTLETT

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