KSAC warns JPSCo against cutting down trees
Kingston's Mayor Delroy Williams says it is unacceptable for utility companies to act on their own by just going around and chopping down trees in public spaces.

THE Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) has warned the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) not to chop down trees which it considers a danger to power lines without engaging the council.

Kingston's Mayor Delroy Williams told last Tuesday's meeting of the council that the town clerk has written to the JPSCo after discovering that the utility company has been chopping down trees, which it says are encroaching on power lines.

Councillor Williams noted that an article in the local newspapers had raised the issue of the chopping down of trees of which the council was informed, and while the council did not intend for it to develop into a media issue, photographs of the chopped down trees had led the council to make a closer examination.

He said that the municipality was not totally blamed for the activity, but after checking with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), which denied that it had anything to do with the activity, had sought a response from the JPSCo.

"On further queries it was discovered that it was the JPSCo that was trimming the trees across the municipality. The town clerk has since written to the JPSCo on the matter and while we will not be speaking much on the matter but just to say that in the municipality the issue of environment and environmental protection and tree planting is a big issue within the municipality," the Mayor said.

"We are imploring the utility companies and private companies and generally the ministries and agencies that activities of this nature should involve all stakeholders and careful thought given and a proper approach be agreed to. From where we sit as a council, it cannot be that utility companies act on their own by just going around and chopping down trees in public spaces.

"We understand the explanation regarding the issues with the electrical power wires, but we are saying there ought to be a better way, and that's our position as a municipality and so the town clerk will not only write to the utility company but to all ministries and agencies who may from time to time do some of this [kind of] work within the city space, which would include the NSWMA.

"There ought to be a standard way of doing these things and, as a municipality, we have a standard approach as to how pruning of trees is treated with. There also needs to be a solution for other things that would include trees," he argued.

A similar policy of cutting down trees, which the JPSCo said was encroaching on its power lines and leading to urgent complaints from its customers, led to an assurance last summer by the JPSCo to remove the trees which endangered its power lines. However, the company said that it was more difficult to hold to a timeline for cutting trees in rural communities, where it seems that its teams are faced with various challenges, including access to remote areas.

Last July the JPS announced that it had embarked on a blitz in urban areas and rural Jamaica to remove overhanging fruit trees from power lines.

The encroach of fruit trees and vegetation on power lines has been a long-standing problem and continues to be a concern for the company, owing to a lack of enforcement of law and order on public roads, the JPSco said.

BY BALFOD HENRY Senior Observer writer

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