The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has commenced an audit of the island’s street lights.
The assessment process got underway two weeks ago in the parish of Clarendon.
Speaking in the 2012/13 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 26), portfolio Minister, Hon. Noel Arscott, said the audit, which involves collaboration with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), is aimed at ensuring that local authorities “objectively know what they are paying for and get value for money”.
It will also conclusively, determine: the monthly obligation of councils to JPS; the number, type and location of street lights; and the ability of councils to accommodate additional lights.
He noted that information garnered from the audit will place local authorities in a better position to make critical cost-effective decisions when addressing street light issues.
“For the last fiscal year, we paid out approximately $2.3 billion for street lights, and given the changes to fuel rates, for this fiscal year, this will escalate beyond $2.6 billion if prudence is not exercised in the management of this service,” Mr. Arscott said.
The audit is in keeping with initiatives by the Government to reduce high energy costs. The Ministry is also undertaking a pilot project with Green RG for the retrofitting of over 5,000 street lights with solar/LED lighting, so too, four local authorities, infirmaries, markets and the Ministry’s offices.
Additionally, Mr. Arscott said, the Ministry will be providing financial support for the councils’ energy efficient measures, and participating in the Government’s National Energy Efficiency programme.
The Minister noted that local government entities, like most other organisations, are challenged by escalating electricity costs which, he lamented, are “threatening to affect the level of service they provide”.
Against this background, he contended that new ways will have to be explored and found to significantly lower costs.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter