MONTEGO BAY, St James — Frightened by the hazard posed by a palm tree that has grown into the power lines in front of her Bogue Village home, Monica Davidson is pleading for the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) to intervene “before someone gets seriously hurt”.
“It is very scary. It flashes electricity whenever it is windy and you can see the sparks. I don’t know what else to do,” Davidson told the Jamaica Observer earlier this week.
“I am very concerned that it is going to start a fire one of these days, and it will probably hit the whole neighbourhood because even some construction workers who were here recently told me that this tree is very dangerous,” she said, adding that she has made countless reports about the matter to JPS.
Davidson said her calls for JPS’s assistance started about two years ago when she noticed that the tree was growing into the electrical wires. She, however, admitted to the Observer that the tree was left unpruned due to her not residing in Jamaica.
“About two years ago I went into JPS’s office to report that it was growing into the light wires and I would like it to be trimmed. One year after I came back it was still there. I asked other people, like the neighbours, to report it as well because it is right between the both of us and they did. There have been about 10 different reports,” she complained.
“My niece in Kingston does it on my behalf whenever I am not here, but every time you go there to make a report they give you a different report number and they tell you that it will be addressed within six to 48 hours. Yet that never happens and this has been going on for about two-and-a-half years now until the tree has grown into the electricity wires,” Davidson said.
After reading the news of a St James caretaker who was electrocuted while picking breadfruit earlier in June, the elderly woman said she is worried that this may soon come to her doorstep if the tree isn’t removed. She is calling on the electricity company to act quickly.
“What are they waiting on, for it to kill someone? I explained to them in my letter that this is dangerous and that they should have some concern for the community. I cannot even cut the tree myself because I asked a guy to cut it for me and he said that electricity in the neighbourhood will have to be turned off. Who am I going to get to turn it off? That is the job of JPS,” Davidson argued.
“I could not send someone to cut that tree because it is dangerous for the person cutting the tree, so I would really like them, as the experts, to come and address the situation,” she maintained.
Davidson’s immediate neighbour, Maureen Smith, told the Observer that she is fearful that major damage will be done to her home appliances if the issue is not attended to in short order.
She, too, is worried about her life.
“Mi fraid say it might go shorts out and mash up the things dem inna my house. Plus, it deh right at the gate and mi haffi pass it, so mi fraid it go shorts out and kill mi. The other day mi see wah news story about how stick kill wah man outta Ironshore, so mi fraid of it,” she said.
“You see when the breeze blows and touch it, you can see the electricity and you hear the sounds too. So mi want the tree fi come down. It look like dem a wait on this to kill somebody before dem cut it down,” the Bogue Village resident lamented.
When the Observer contacted director of corporate communications for JPS Winsome Callum, she said that the company will be “following up on the customer’s report”.
In the meantime, Callum pointed out that residents are responsible for pruning the trees in their yards to ensure they do not touch the power line.
“We are reminding our customers that it is their responsibility to keep the trees on their property from growing into power lines. They should not wait until the tree has grown close to or into the line to take action. However, in cases where the tree has already grown into the line, they should contact JPS for assistance,” Callum said.
“It may not be possible for JPS to respond immediately, so we ask the customer to make sure that no one climbs the tree or picks fruit from the tree. She has the responsibility to keep people away from the tree, especially children,” she added.