By Jeff Trotman
Head of the Linden Electricity Company Inc. (LECI), Horace James, says that the company has changed its policy of not making connections to houses that do not have a meter and to squatters.
James told more than one hundred people at a community development meeting for residents and land owners of Amelia’s Ward and surrounding areas including Kara Kara on Wednesday 21st May, that LECI had delayed in acquiring meters for distribution in the new housing schemes at Amelia’s Ward. Consequently, the company was forced to change its system to facilitate people, who acquired their meters privately.
He also said a lot of people, for instance in Lower Kara Kara, do not have title for the land on which they are building, and while his position has always been not to encourage squatting, if a building has already been erected and it is not on any area required for manufacturing or bauxite, he has been issuing permission for people to get an electricity connection.
The LECI head, however, cautioned that in order to obtain a connection, the home owner should have a proper certificate to prove that the electrical installation has been inspected. He disclosed that a lot of people in Lower Kara have already received electricity connections, although, they do not have title for land but have a full certificate of inspection.
The meeting was called by the Region Ten Democratic Council to address a number of infrastructural and land issues that concern residents in the two new large housing schemes in Amelia’s Ward and the nearby communities, including Kara Kara, where squatting has become prevalent.
The organizers invited senior representatives from utility companies operating in Linden such as GWI and LECI, which is the sole supplier of electricity on the east bank of Linden to answer questions from residents.
James stressed that once persons are not located in positions that would impede development he would issue permission for them to get electricity. He said that people, who obtained houses in the Amelia’s Ward Phase Two Housing Scheme received full clearance when the titles were given out so owners of houses in Phase Two should have a copy of their wiring system at home.
“There is no excuse for that. We will not connect if you don’t have a certificate for your electrical wiring,” the LECI head said. “So persons living in Phase Two might have been receiving calls that (they should) come in and pay – and we have started about two, three weeks ago, connecting fully into Phase Two.”
Stating that Phase Three is the problematic area, James pointed out that the Central Housing and Planning Authority is responsible for providing general infrastructure, including roads and “the main electrical supply in terms of the poles and the primary wiring”.
He said that although LECI has done some electricity connections in Phase Three, he cannot promise that LECI will complete all the houses in Phase Three within a three- month period and he suggested that the people’s representatives should contact Central Housing and Planning to see how the infrastructural work will be completed since it had promised the home owners that the scheme would have full infrastructural work, including streets lights, etc. as in Phase Two.
“Money is voted for that,” James said. “I know they are to get contracts awarded for that work to be done. We will help a few people but I can’t give guarantee for the entire Phase Three.”
The LECI head said a lot of people have been going to him about street lamps. He also said although it is the responsibility of the town council to provide street lamps he has been advising community groups that once they obtain lamps with the acceptable specification, LECI will install them.
In response to a resident, who said they have been advised to purchase their own light poles and pay $50,000 to have a pole planted, James said LECI would not want anybody to install their own lantern post . “Electricity is something that has to be done safely and in a structured manner.”
Supplying electricity to Phase Three in Amelia’s Ward has been delayed because LECI does not have the certified plan of the area, James said. “Something is definitely wrong with the quality of surveys we’re getting,” he added, noting that LECI had to remove a number of poles because they were passing through people’s yards.
He reiterated that LECI needs to get the official plan, “especially in Phase Three … but we don’t want anybody to put up posts. We will do that ourselves.”