The issue of electricity continues to remain high on the development agenda of the Liberian Government. Since its incumbency, efforts continue to be exerted by the government to restore and improve the sector, devastated across the country as a result of years of violent intermittent civil conflict.
Despite the foregoing, the government – through its “small light today, big light tomorrow: program announced a few years ago by the President of Liberia, may now be on top of things – gradually restoring electricity to Monrovia and some parts through generators and the hydro dam, expected to be completed by December.
In the wake of these efforts, the issue of power theft in certain quarters of the society by some undesirable Liberians is now raising eye-brows, especially in government circles. Recently, Liberia’s Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo alarmed that power theft was posing serious threat to the development and growth of electricity, undermining efforts being done by the Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC toward restoration.
Additionally, such power theft was even robbing the government of revenue, describing it as unfair for certain Liberians to take their hard earn money to pay electricity bills, while others find it enjoyable to carry out the stealing just to have current. The minister warned against such power theft as anyone caught in such act would face the full weight of the law, emphasizing that there were significant penalties for perpetrators taking pleasure in stealing current with no room for negotiation, as the laws were clear on the book.
While we share the concern of the minister and that of the Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC, mere warnings and threats against thieves without effective and efficient monitoring mechanisms may just be “wasting water on duck’s back”. What the ministry and LEC must first pursue is the necessary internal control mechanisms in terms of monitoring the field staff and technicians, following which the external control mechanisms can go into effect.
Moreover, the delays for months in ensuring electricity supply to communities, under the guise of ‘no meters’, may also be an attributing factor for power theft – something for which the LEC Management must be blamed. If the LEC can fast-track the various connections and avoid the un-necessary bureaucracies through which would-be customers go just to access electricity.
With these mechanisms made effective and efficient, while bills are paid, there would be no need for the government to complain about power theft – it would either be curtailed or minimized. But the management of the LEC itself, must be made to be effective and efficient in ensuring these mechanisms for us to succeed as a people towards the restoration of “big light” tomorrow.