Several homes in central Monrovia have been raided and cut off from powerlines in theElectricity Corporation or LEC’s anti- theft exercise executed on Friday, 18 November.
While the raid led by LEC’s Assistant Manager for Energy Monitoring Mr.Owen Richards remained peaceful during the operation, some residentstraded claims against the corporation for its alleged poorcustomer service, specifically complaining about slow response tocustomer’s concerns that they claim has contributed to power theft.
The head of communication at LEC, Mr. Mambu James Kpargoi suggestedthat the post- war State – owned power corporation needed “tough laws”that will ensure that power theft activities are not profitable tothose who engaged in it.
“So the Corporation is seeking in the future to … advocate for tougherlaws to be promulgated against these activities of power theft,” Mr.Kpargoi said. He said several arrests had been made surroundingactivities of power theft; but the main constraint is lack of laws to prosecute suspects. As such, he has expressed hopethat laws would be made to invoke crimes such as economic sabotage forthose involved in power theft.
According to him, the operation yielded huge success, while briefing reporterson a “massive raid” led by Mr. Richards in central Monrovia. The LEC team was seen cutting power lines and loading bunch of directlines disconnected from LEC poles into their operation vehicle onFriday, as residents up Crown Hill, Broad Street, Center Street,Gurley Street and Carey Street looked on speechlessly.
Mr. Kpargoi said since the LEC adapted the anti -theft operationssome months back, its crew members go out on a daily basis in helpingto minimize power theft, claiming, “We’ve dismantled the network of power thieves.” LEC says it is using whistle-blowers based in various communities totrack power theft, particularly announcing that many Liberians werenow calling the LEC’s energy monitoring section to report power theft.
The anti -theft team leader Mr. Owen Richards appealed to government, particularly the Legislature to come down hard on powertheft by making laws in that regards. With no law on the book for prosecution, Mr. Richards says power theftis one of the problems that is taking LEC backward, though he said hecould not attach monetary value in terms of the loses that the corporation has incurred due to power theft.Mr. Richards however listed the Redlight Community, Fiama, Sinkor; Barrole Practice Ground, the New Kru Town area,West Point and Clara Town, respectively as places where power theft is very high.
He however disputed arguments that LEC’s delays in supplying meters tocustomers were causing power theft, counter -arguing that even peoplewho have meters are still stealing current. “It’s just like Liberian mentality – they want everything free. Soeven you give the meter to the community, you got West Point, you gotClara Town, you got Slipway, they inflicted these communities withmeters, still other people are still stealing,” Mr. Richards claimed.
But during interview with some of the community people, a resident ofCrown Hill Ms. Josephine Madison argued that LEC was responsible forthe power theft, claiming that there would be no power theft if the corporation were giving applicants their meters on time.
Though Josephine says she is not sharing her current with anybody, yetshe claims that she sometimes experiences her line to be very low tothe extent that she wonders if another person was stealing from her.
According to her, she had intended inviting LEC agents to come and take a look at her meter, but was apprehensive that she would be asked to pay money if she went to the office. “My recommendation, if somebody goes to apply, if LEC can’t affordgiving the person meter, let them don’t waste their time by eatingtheir money,” Josephine concluded.
Another resident of Crown Hill, Mr. Othello Kuluwill claimed that whenpeople try to get meter from LEC, the Corporation would delay to thepoint that others would get fed-up and abandon the process.
Mr. Kuluwill claimed that for those who could afford, they would gettheir meters by allegedly paying “exorbitantly”, saying they wouldhave to run after the meter after registering to get it.
“Yes, I can say other people are not capable because all hands are notequal … so everybody is not capable of doing the same thing,” Mr.Kuluwill claimed. He alleged that due to LEC’s delinquency, others are now doing “third- party connection” because current is very important.
By Winston W. Parley