JPS exec wants ethics campaign to stem theft

Leroy Reid, director of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) south-west region, has issued a call for a national ethics campaign against dishonest practices such as the illegal abstraction of electricity from the national grid.

According to Reid, whose south-west region consists of the eight parishes along the western and southern belts of the island, theft of electricity is committed by all classes of society and has, seemingly, become an accepted norm.

"My call today is for an ethical campaign led by the Government, joined by the private sector, supported by our churches and NGOs (non-governmental organisations). This is so that in the minds of Jamaicans, we can inculcate the right behaviours, the right practices, and the right habits to live honestly and do honestly every day," said Reid, while addressing journalists at the JPS Region South West Media Breakfast held at the Bogue power station in Montego Bay, St James, yesterday.

"Jamaica has an ethical challenge, and that ethical challenge is showcasing itself in the illegal extraction of electricity from the JPS," added Reid, who was appointed to head the super region eight months ago.

"It happens across all sectors, all industries, upscale neigbour-hoods, the not-so-upscale neighbourhoods and it is one aspect of our culture as a nation and as a people that we need to grapple with."

 

CAN STYMIE GROWTH

 

He continued: "Every member of the community that steals, places an undue burden on the other member of the community that does not steal and invariably impacts the cost of electricity to them. I think that every well-thinking Jamaican needs to galvanise and fight this scourge that is on Jamaica because it is not a JPS issue, it's a Jamaica issue."

Reid, who, prior to his appointment with JPS, served as chief executive officer of international business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Conduent (formerly Xerox), presented data that showed that as at September 2018, the 12 months rolling average for losses nationally was 26.38 per cent.

St James and Clarendon, from the south-west region, were named among the five parishes said to be contributing some 70 per cent of the technical and non-technical losses being experienced by the energy distributor.

"I've seen what this problem can cause, having spent a fair degree of my time in telecommunications. Within that sector, there was theft, and there continues to be theft. And having worked in the BPO sector, there is a very robust system and policies to mitigate against the risk of loss," said Reid.

"The behaviour of workers put their jobs and the livelihood of their families at peril and potentially can give our nation a black eye and stymie the growth and the transformation that we are seeking."

He added, "I have to confess that I am alarmed at the theft that exists in our country and theft without considering the safety and the well-being of their fellow citizens and families. I heard too many stories of people dying in the process of stealing electricity. It's a scourge, it's robbing families, it's affecting our economic growth, and it's causing a cost burden on families."


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