Tue | Jun 6, 2023

Bills increase, services decrease: Manchester councillors chide JPS

Published:Tuesday | February 15, 2022 | 12:09 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer

COUNCILLORS AT the Manchester Municipal Corporation have expressed displeasure at the poor level of service they continue to receive from the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), despite numerous reports.

Their dissatisfaction was further fuelled by the virtual attendance of the operations manager, Devon Willis, to last Thursday’s meeting, instead of being physically present to facilitate better discussions absent the technical glitches.

Willis, in his response, indicated there was some miscommunication between his office and the corporation as to the date and time for meetings.

However, that was quickly refuted by Mayor Donovan Mitchell, who stated that the general corporation meetings, across the island, have been held on the second Thursday of every month at 10 a.m., since 1928.

Despite Willis’ reports on street light repairs, pole replacement and debushing projects, the councillors said they were dissatisfied with the quality of the work.

“I want to find out if it is only when persons have late payment that the contractors JPS employs can be effective in[the] job of disconnection ... . You are paid by your customers, by this council, to carry out your lawful duties ... . How often are linemen sent out to do their assessments?” Councillor of the Craighead Division Omar Miller questioned.

He added: “When you look at the monthly bills, you have no choice but to pay. That means the service we require, we must get it.”

As the service company continues to encourage the use of its mobile app to report issues, among other features, Councillor of the Grove Town Division Iceval Brown indicated that it should not be positioned as the most effective method for all.

“...Not everybody is tech-savvy, and he (Willis) is telling me that I should tell the public to download the app ... .We have so many problems to talk about, and it cannot be that people are having problems and it cannot be addressed.”

Brown said as a result of persons’ inaccessibility and inability to use the app, several issues remain under-reported.

“Right now at the Cocoa Walk Cemetery, there is [a] rotting pole that is practically across the road,” she said

However, Media and Public Relations Manager at the JPS, Audrey Williams, told The Gleaner that the app remains an option for reporting issues, even as the “company streamlines processes for improved results”.

“While customers are encouraged to use the mobile app, because of the improved customer experience in being able to track the resolution of their query, the company is also mindful that some customers are not as tech-savvy; that is why all the other channels for making formal reports still exist,” she stated

Councillor of the Walderston Division Leroy Mitchell indicated that lives will continue to be endangered if the company takes a reactive rather a proactive approach.

“I am so disappointed that you have to be waiting months to get a matter resolved. Over the last four to six months, I have been complaining of fire with an entanglement up by Chudleigh, and up until today nothing has been done about it. “

Willis, speaking at the monthly corporation’s meeting on Thursday, indicated that there are some challenges, and asked members to submit formal and specific reports about their concerns, so that they can be addressed.

“I will reach out to all councillors to have a one-on-one and one to get a feel of the challenges and how best I can work with each councillor. I am just asking for your patience and allow us to work together,” he said.