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Special Feature

LEC must provide explanation

Everyone in Liberia knows that genuine recovery and development here depends on stable public electricity. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf pledged to provide electricity for the country in her first inaugural address after the 2005 general and presidential elections. The pledge eventually turned into a popular slogan, “Small Light Today, Big Light Tomorrow.” In the early days of her first six-year term, she fulfilled the “Small Light Today” with power grids, connecting slum communities in the suburbs of Monrovia.

The institution responsible to make the President’s pledge a reality is the Liberia Electricity Cooperation or LEC. The LEC is also responsable for the sale of electricity to consumers, and for the planning, operation and maintenance of the low and medium-voltage grid in Liberia. However, Liberians are somehow disappointed in the operations of the Liberia Electricity Cooperation, giving its inability to provide 24 hours power to customers who paid for the service.

Many frustrated residents describe electricity in Liberia as a Christmas light which goes off and on intermittently, sometimes damaging appliances in homes. Homes and businesses have complained about the poor services of the LEC without receiving any reasonable explanation from management. Some residents complained that they only receive current in the day but night time they are cut-off while others contend that they get current only in the night without service in the day. What an irony!

Businesses subscribing with the LEC described their customer-ship with the entity as a complete waste of money because the corporation doesn’t provide the power at the time they need it most, constraining them to resort to using power generators at additional costs. What makes it more frustrating nowadays is the Ebola outbreak; we thought that electricity would have been available during this crisis to help with the fight against the virus by the LEC providing 24hours current to various homes to keep kids currently out of school, stay indoors watching television.

This will help parents in curtailing kids moving from one community to another with friends or to crowded areas which could expose them infection. But we are seeing the complete opposite as in the entire day homes are without electricity, including night time with the imposition of curfew, which poses security problem for families as armed robbers roam communities, forcibly bursting into homes.

Why is the LEC not providing services to the people? Are customers not paying their bills? Is the LEC not in the national budget of Liberia? Yes, customers do pay their light bills for we know for fact this is a prepaid service, meaning that before you even get connected and obtain power, you prepay to the corporation. The LEC is indeed in the national budget of Liberia.

The LEC cannot tell us that there are fuel or gas shortages on the Liberian market, or there is no funding for fuel or gas, and if it were the case, then we also ask where are all the money paid by customers going? What happens to the money placed in the budget for the LEC operation?

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These are but few of the concerns we the neglected customers need answers to for the sake of mature and responsible customer service, which is the bedrock of any commercial establishment, the LEC included.

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