Residents of Caldwell Township, Montserrado County voiced their frustration thru street protests here on Monday, 19 February over the lack of electricity in the township. They called on the Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC to extend its ongoing power distribution exercise to Caldwell and surrounding areas.
According to the residents, their protest followed series of written engagements with the LEC authorities on the need to extend services to the township without any success, so they decided to get in the streets to get the national government’s attention.
When a group of citizens or people with common interest feel neglected or forgotten, the last resort is to vent their frustration. This is exactly what transpired on Monday in Caldwell, characterized by street battle with the police.
Although no casualty was reported, but the message from the residents was clear: basic social services such as safe drinking water and electricity, among others are fundamental rights, not privilege. And the government should know better.
Despite its commercial and economic relevance, electricity is strategically a security matter. Even without connecting homes, street lights create a semblance of security and confidence. It also restricts criminals from venturing out in the open, for fear of being arrested.
With an expected capacity of 80 MW, the mount coffee hydro plant operated by the Liberia Electricity Corporation is distributing power to various communities across Monrovia, but at a snail pace, angering citizens and constraining business institutions to run generators, at an extra cost.
Like the residents of Caldwell Township, many other residents in Monrovia and its suburbs are without electricity, though they need it desperately. With crimes on the increase, especially armed robbery, the current situation provides an open field for criminals to terrorize peaceful residents at night.
LEC Assistant Director for Planning, Edwin Fahnbulleh, says management has no plan to abandon residents of Caldwell Township, explaining that there has been series of discussions between the corporation and the residents, and that under a World Bank-funded Liberia Electricity Expansion Project, the township will be connected with electricity.
But the residents seem to have lost patience, particularly so when the hydro that provides electricity to the capital, Monrovia, is at their door step. They wonder why they are not benefiting from the vital service when surrounding communities such as New Kru Town, Logan Town, West Point Township and other areas enjoy electricity.
They have a genuine concern. It behooves the LEC Management to exert every effort to extend distribution to Caldwell Township and other communities, not only for personal consumption, but to provide protection for the public, because electricity is security.