‘Mi love my light’

‘Mi love my light’

Majesty Gardens residents laud JPS project as company celebrates gains

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, March 02, 2019

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SINCE the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) rolled out its Ready Board programme in Majesty Gardens, St Andrew, the utility company has seen a reduction in electricity theft in that community.

In fact, the light and power company’s senior vice-president for customer service, Ramsay McDonald, disclosed that the decline in losses due to energy theft in the community has been “considerable”.

“So you’re looking at moving from 90 per cent, in terms of energy lost, down to approximately 30 per cent energy lost, right now — that’s a considerable improvement. Yes, as we look around and have gone into the community today (yesterday), there’s still some challenges, but we have to applaud the people in the community for the effort they have made in complying,” McDonald told the Jamaica Observer following a walk-through of the inner-city community yesterday.

The Ready Board — which is a piece of board with a breaker, a bulb, a switch and sockets — is built especially for premises that cannot accommodate traditional electrical wiring. With Ready Boards being made available in Majesty Gardens, more than 600 residents can now connect their appliances to legal electricity — a massive jump from the three legal connections that existed in the community in 2013.

JPS launched the Ready Board Electrification Demonstration pilot programme in 2015, through a partnership with Jamaica Social Investment Fund, the University of Technology (UTech, Jamaica), and the United States Agency for International Development.

The programme, which cost approximately $20 million to implement, is geared towards reducing electricity theft, wastage and risk of electrocution.

According to the World Bank and JPS, approximately 18 per cent of the electricity produced on the island is lost to theft, either through illegal connections or people tampering with meters.

The Ready Boards were made by UTech engineering students and were approved by the Government Electrical Inspectorate.

During the walk-through yesterday some of the residents lauded the project.

In fact, the only thing on Devon Graham’s mind was paying his electricity bill.

“I try my best. Mi owe $2,300 and as mi get mi pay mi ago pay it,” Graham said before inviting JPS President and CEO Emanuel DaRosa inside his house.

The 52-year-old labourer, who became a JPS customer a year ago, told the Observer that he was one of the first postpaid Ready Board customers.

Insisting that he had to take advantage of the programme, he said: “Mi appreciate it. Di teefing light mash up mi fridge (refrigerator) and TV). Every time mi pay mi bill JPS say ‘Congrats’. Mi love my light.”

Another customer, Jacqueline Watson, said she was the first to sign up and the last to receive her Ready Board.

“Mi first pay the $4,000. Mi have the receipt until it rub out. Mi glad mi get it. The bandooloo man nah get no more money from mi,” Watson said.

The 54-year-old woman insisted that she has to have the precious commodity.

“I love it so much…Some (residents) don’t care even though they have the Ready Board. Some [of them] love freeness,” she said.

Watson further explained that although residents have Ready Boards with the prepaid service, sometimes they will ask her to charge their phones or iron their clothes.

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