On New Year's Eve (December 31), just a few hours before the nation greeted 2013, residents of Highlight View and Land Lease in Eastern St. Andrew, were happily celebrating the receipt of electricity in their communities for the first time.
With the flick of a switch, Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, turned on the street light in Highlight View, to brighten the pathway for hundreds of residents who showed their appreciation with loud cheers and applause.
“We are about to approach a new year, 2013, and there is nothing that can be better than standing here to ensure that citizens of this community and beyond, will be able to access proper electricity,” the Prime Minister told the gathering.
She pointed out that making electricity available was a matter of “promise made, promise kept,” as the residents had indicated on the campaign trail in 2011 that they wanted electricity in their communities.
The Prime Minister congratulated Member of Parliament for St. Andrew Eastern, Andre Hylton, for living up to his commitment to the residents.
Electricity was provided under the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) and Chairman, Rev. Garnet Roper, explained that approximately $4.5 million was spent to have some 90 families connected as of New Year’s Eve, with 900 more to be connected later on. This will eventually bring electricity to 2,500 residents in the two communities.
Addressing the residents, Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, announced that the basic school in the community would also be a beneficiary of the project.
He presented a letter of commitment to Principal, Joy Scarlett, which stated that by the end of January 2013, the REP will be extending the project to enable the basic school to have the proper wiring, so that it can have its own meter and be connected.
The Minister also stated that the mission is well on the way for the country to be fully electrified in short order, as is mandated by the Prime Minister.
Also participating was President of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo), Kelly Tomblin, who pledged the commitment of her team to be easily accessible to the communities as part of its CARE programme.
“We understand the value of partnership and we know how important this is to you. We know that it means education and security and we’ll take that responsibility with great honour,” Ms. Tomblin said.
In the meantime, Mayor of Kingston, Senator Angela Brown-Burke, urged the residents to live up to their responsibility. “(I believe) that you understand the value of what is happening here today, the difference that it will make in your lives, and that you are committed to ensuring that you pay your bills, that you prevent individuals from hitting out your street lights, and that you ensure that your community remains safe,” the Mayor said.
Resident Alvin Lesley was ecstatic about finally receiving electricity, having lived in the community since 1994. “It mean that I can see when night come. I can’t take the dark. I have mi TV, mi fridge and mi stereo and I want to hear music. Get some cool ice water, store mi things and all that. So, it is important,” he told JIS News.
Also expressing gratitude was 12 year-old Kashema Tomlinson, a student of Papine High School. She is now happy that she can now watch television and do her homework in comfort.
For Admira Frith, it is “a great pleasure and honour for us in Highlight View to be getting electricity. It is a very good thing (getting electricity), because we don’t have to steal electricity anymore,” she said.
Also in attendance were: Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting; Senator Norman Grant; Deputy Mayor, Andrew Swaby; Member of Parliament, Andre Hylton who chaired the function; State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson and Councillor Venesha Phillips.