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The Electricity Division of the Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology is to network its offices, so that a single database can be created to facilitate the submission of requests from any office of the division.
This new feature will be implemented irrespective of the location of the installation. The process will commence with the construction of a local area network in the Kingston and Montego Bay offices. This is outlined in Ministry Paper 42 tabled by Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell in the House on June 1.
Established in 1956, the Electricity Division is responsible for the inspection of electrical installations throughout the island, in accordance with the Electric Lighting Law.
According to the Ministry Paper, the Division intends to continue to create a better public image, maximize revenue intake and provide quality customer service. To achieve these targets, it has planned a number of programmes for the 2005/2006 fiscal year. These include increasing inspection and certification of electrical installations; approving electrical designs prior to construction; increasing public awareness; adding new services, and providing staff training.
To provide the public with safe electrical installations, the Division intends to certify at least 30,000 installations over the 2005/06 financial year.
All designs submitted to the various Parish Councils will now have to be submitted to the Division for approval. It is expected that this will significantly increase the number of designs submitted to the Division for approval, but will reduce the incidence of faults on completed installations.
Among the activities that will be carried out to increase public awareness on the safe use of electricity, will be the usual meetings with licenced electricians throughout the island to allow the Division the opportunity to highlight the governing electrical code/law, and also to encourage practising electricians to adhere to safety measures. The printed and electronic media will continue to be used to provide relevant information in respect of electrical safety, to the general public.
According to the document, the Division will be exploring the feasibility of conducting inspection of high-risk inner-city residential communities and making the information available to the occupants and neighbouring premises. This is intended to inform occupants of high-risk residences and neighbours of potential electrical risk, so that timely corrective action can be pursued. This new service is intended to reduce the incidence of electrical fires in depressed communities, which can be attributed to faulty electrical wiring.
The Division also intends to place emphasis on the training of staff to increase their general competence as well as to explore the feasibility of supporting the training of technicians. It is hoped that by increasing the level of technicians in the market, that more competitive rates will be available to the public.
For the 2004/05 fiscal year, the Division received a total of 30,400 applications, of which 28,090 or 92.4 percent of installations were granted certification and 1,310 or 7.6 percent were rejected. The Division earned $11.49 million in service fees during the 2004/05 fiscal year.
The Ministry paper noted that inspection fees have not been increased for approximately 13 years and the fees currently charged are significantly below the cost of providing the service. A review is now being done to bring the fees more in line with the economic cost of providing the service.
According to the document, the Ministry is also exploring the feasibility of removing the Division from the budget and for it to be funded from the service fees charged. The document explained that this will enable the Division to improve its quality of service to the public.