FLOW accuses unregistered green energy businesses of stealing batteries


FLOW accuses unregistered green energy businesses of stealing batteries

Observer writer

Thursday, October 03, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Telecommunications provider FLOW is cautioning members of the St James business community trying to go green to avoid using uncertified contractors and companies, some of whom he accused of using stolen telecommunications equipment in their trade.

Going green refers to taking steps to conserve energy, reduce pollution and save money.

“There are blossoming green energy businesses that are popping up islandwide who are stealing batteries. I am putting the blame squarely there,” asserted Stephen Price, country manager of FLOW Jamaica.

He added: “I know a lot of you in this room are looking at making sure that you become more and more energy-efficient [but] please use certified and qualified contractors and not the fly-by-night kind of contractors who are just bringing and using stolen equipment from across the telecoms space to do this.”

Price was addressing a recent Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting in St James at the chamber's Overton Plaza office.

In April, the police reported that a man was caught using FLOW's batteries to power a sound system in Norwood, St James. During that police operation, more than 40 cell site batteries, stolen from Trelawny and St Ann and valued at some $2.5 million were recovered.

The theft of the company's batteries is among the issues affecting the quality of service the business community in the second city is receiving.

Stemming from meetings FLOW had last month with industry leaders, including the Montego Bay chapter of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, a number of those issues, such as outages, reliability, consistency, response time, contact centre and channel removals were brought to the fore.

Since then, the company has taken a number of steps to address the issues.

“We looked at that, and we said we know we have some things to do, but we also explained that there were some inherent challenges that we were facing and this is countrywide,” argued Price, who noted that “the west is extremely important to FLOW.”

In relation to vandalism, Price said, “every single week, we lose some element of our plant islandwide. And this isn't isolated to us; even my competition this happens to. It happens to the Jamaica Public Service, which loses transformers. We think that people would be afraid to touch live electricity or powered lines [but] they are doing that as well. Even within the state of emergency here in Montego Bay, we continue to have losses, cuts and vandalism,” disclosed Price, who added “it is a major issue for us.”

Roadwork and construction are also causing damage to the company's underground infrastructure, Price said.

As a solution, he said the company is working to bury as much of its infrastructure underground over the next three years, which will not only minimise cable theft but also make the network more resilient to hurricanes.

Additionally, Price disclosed that the company has also taken on a team of contractors that will form a part of the company's “fast and rapid response team” that will repair cuts and minimise downtime.

President of the chamber Janet Silvera revealed that the organisation approached the telecomms firm for a meeting following numerous complaints from the business community.

“I must tell you that I am pleased, because the response that we got from Flow immediately made us understand that this was a company that was willing to work with us to ensure that persons who may be having issues with their services here in western Jamaica would see some of those issues subside,” expressed Silvera.

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