Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, said the Ministry is exploring ways to reduce the high cost to the parish councils for street lights, which is projected at approximately $2.6 billion this year.
He was responding to concerns raised at a special meeting of the Manchester Parish Council in Mandeville on February 24, that the local authority had to pay out “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to maintain and provide the service, when in a number of instances, the street lights were either malfunctioning or out of use.
Mr. Arscott informed that a committee, comprising representatives from the Ministries of Local Government and Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, was looking at some “exciting possibilities” including attaching solar panels to, and retrofitting street lights with applications that can contribute to cost reduction.
The committee, he said, was also exploring the possibility of conducting an audit of the number of functioning street lights, which he contended, could contribute to a one-third reduction in the associated costs.
“I know that (a) study was done and people are saying that the country is well lit. But…that’s probably misuse of statistics. I am going to call on the parish council to ensure that they have a formal audit (done). It is not fair for taxpayers’ money to be paying lights that are not working,” he stated.
Mr. Arscott also gave an undertaking to “get some more lights to the areas that need it”, especially in rural districts and communities, pointing out that this will, among, other things, assist in deterring crime, and enable residents to “feel freer in their environment”.
Other issues raised at the meeting included matters pertaining to the fire service, markets, poor relief, water, solid waste, and local government reform.
Friday’s meeting formed part of the series of familiarisation visits by the Minister to local authorities across the island.
Mr. Arscott and State Minister, Colin Fagan, also met with members of the St. Elizabeth Parish Council in Black River on Friday.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter