Columns

Is the JPS in the dark?

Ken Chaplin

Tuesday, October 30, 2012    

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For the past two years a Jamaica Public Service utility pole on the main road from Stony Hill to Guava Gap in St Andrew has been leaning at a dangerous angle. About six weeks ago it was down about 60 degrees and I made several calls to my contacts at the company's head office, but without success. I therefore decided to telephone the JPS emergency number. I spoke to an agent and explained the urgency of the situation and the importance of replacing the pole which carried the main distribution lines and several cables of other companies to many districts in West Rural St Andrew.

However, no action was taken. Well, hurricane Sandy came last week and took the pole down - to the ground! The pole, distribution lines and cables blocked the road for several days. Only small vehicles could get through after the pole was cut in two and pushed to the sidewalk. One onlooker said cynically: "The JPS takes action only after the event."

But let me give some credit to the JPS which I should have done a long time ago. The company has done a good job of replacing old poles in the Corporate Area with the least disruption to traffic and with much speed.

Gov't blocks Finsac investigation

The government has shown a lack of good faith in the investigation into the financial calamity which the PNP government of the l990s brought on the country and many of its investors and depositors. What is more, Jamaica has developed into a disorderly society and the government has joined the disorderly path, at least in one respect.

The way the government has handled the commission of inquiry into the operations of the Financial Sector Adjustment Company (Finsac) is not only disorderly, but also disgraceful. The PNP government of the 1990s wrecked the financial foundation of the country by disastrous policies - policies that cost 140 per cent of the GDP and ate $40 billion of the country's funds, which it could ill afford, and crippling the lives of thousands of Jamaicans. The new PNP government, led by the country's first woman prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, has cut off funds from the inquiry.

Apparently the government does not want the country to understand what transpired, but we are entitled to know the factors that led to the debacle. The prime minister, whom I admire for her strength of character, should ignore the advice of a few of her ministers, and proceed to provide funds for the commission to complete its work.

The commission says it needs $20 million to complete its work, a small amount of money compared to the magnitude of the cost of the financial disaster to the country.

What's happening, Public Defender?

A strange thing is happening in the country which is troubling to many Jamaicans. That's the long delay of the public defender's report to the country on the Tivoli Gardens massacre which took place more than two years ago. During the incursion by the security forces, at least 73 civilians and one soldier died.

I, too, am surprised at the inordinately long time it is taking to produce the report. What is more surprising is the refusal of Mr Earl Witter, a colleague of more than 50 years, to take any of my calls.

Suffice it to say my wife has not forgiven him when he telephoned me at two o'clock one morning to check a story about the then prime minister. He was a reporter for the Daily Gleaner at the time.

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