Campaign to stop power theft widens

regionalantitheftoperationiMONTEGO BAY — Faced with revenue losses amounting to more than US$24 million in western Jamaica last year, due to electricity theft, the Jamaica Public Service Company Region West yesterday launched a massive anti-theft campaign in targeted St James communities. The drive is expected to spread across other western parishes soon.

Yesterday’s operation commenced in the Hart Street section of the city where a number of the JPS’s technical staff, who were accompanied by members of the security forces, swooped down on several premises in a bid to unearth illegal connections and instances of meter tampering.

During the drive in the densely populated Hart Street area a total of seven meters were removed and 10 illegal service wires disconnected.

The team then rolled into the nearby Railway Lane where they removed five meters and 23 illegal connections.

JPS Region West, which encompasses the parishes of St Ann, Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland, reportedly recorded approximately 20 per cent in lost revenue during 2012, which amounts to roughly US$2 million per month in losses for the company.

The anti-electricity theft drive forms part of the light and power company’s island-wide campaign dubbed “Take Back JPS”, geared towards mitigating revenue losses.

“So we are on a campaign where we are going to be taking back our business. But it is not that we are taking back JPS, we are taking back Jamaica, too. While we are taking back JPS and Jamaica, legitimate businesses can compete with other businesses who are stealing from us,” JPS’ Western Regional Director Blaine Jarrett told the Observer West.

Heavy theft

He noted that based on data collected by JPS personnel, a number of communities have been identified as having a heavy concentration of electricity theft. These areas, Jarrett said, will be among the first to be tackled during the anti-theft drive, even as opportunities will be extended to illegal electricity users to make arrangements to settle outstanding payments.

“We have identified certain areas where we need to attack first, so we will be sending a strong signal, but the important thing is that we are saying to our customers, if you know that you are stealing, come in and talk to us,” Jarrett explained.

According to T’Shura Gibbs, JPS parish manager for St James, over 50 per cent of customers who were disconnected for non-payment of bills, mostly in Montego Bay, between October last year and the middle of this month, have failed to come in and settle. (Observer)

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