Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Honourable Desmond McKenzie, is urging Jamaicans to be vigilant against streetlight theft.
“We have the breakdown of where the thefts have occurred from parish to division. Unscrupulous people are preying on the network, all over the country. In the last financial year, 723 streetlights were stolen and the JPS spent US$303,660 or over J$47 million to replace them,” he shared during his 2022/2023 Sectoral Presentation under the theme ‘Leading the rural transformation drive, as Jamaica emerges from COVID-19”.
“While it is clear that these criminal acts require a police response, it is not possible for the Constabulary to be on every road to address this issue. The streetlights are being stolen on the main roads, and within urban and rural communities. I call on residents everywhere to be vigilant, and to help to prevent the highways and byways being plunged into darkness.”
The average cost of replacing one streetlight is US$420 and incidents of theft have been reported in all 14 parishes.
According to the Ministry’s data, the Chesterfield Main Road in St. Andrew is the site of repeated thefts. Some 32 lights along with 3,200 metres of service wire were stolen on three separate occasions. They were replaced three times at a cost of nearly US$50,000.
“The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is reporting that lights along the Chesterfield Main Road have been stolen for a fourth time, and that it will cost US$16,000 to replace them. The second example is the Hellshire Main Road in St. Catherine, where 15 lights and 1,500 metres of service wire were stolen all at once on one night. These lamps and wires were replaced at a cost of US$7,800,” added Minister McKenzie.
He emphasized that meaningful investment in physical infrastructure must include the maintenance and expansion of the country’s network of streetlights. This approach is also hinged on value for money.
In the last financial year, the JPS billed the Government J$2.9 billion for the provision of streetlights, and the bill was paid in full. The light and power company was paid an average of J$243m monthly to provide this service.
“The reality remains however, that not all the streetlights are working, and the Local Authorities and the citizens who fall within their jurisdictions all over the country, deserve better,” the Minister stated.
“As had been promised to this House in my last presentation, I have been meeting, along with Ministry officials with the JPS to resolve a wide range of issues, and the consultations are continuing. In the last financial year, the company installed 725 new streetlights, which was 358 short of the installation target of 1,083.”
A total of 13,575 streetlights were repaired between April 2021 and March 2022.