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Marylanders fight over control of electricity

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Days after citizens of Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District#2, Maryland County were asked to managed their own electricity in the district due to persist complaints, they have kicked against a three-man committee set up by Statutory District Superintendent Alysious William.

The three-man committee constituted to control the electricity in the district includes Lincoln S. Wesseh, Chair; Thomas K. Nyemah, Co-chair; Dennis Weah, Secretary General and Mr. Wallace Dennis, who currently manages power supply in Harper District and other parts of the county.

Mr. Dennis was recommended during the administration of former County Superintendent Betsy Kuoh Toe to manage electricity in the entire Maryland County until the service can be turned over to national government officially.

But since he took up the job there have been several complaints from citizens on the intervention Statutory District Superintendent William.

The long-term conflict between residents of Maryland County and the Management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation in the county over non-payment of electricity bills evolved after community dwellers purchased two transformers on their own at the cost of US$20,000, but the LEC management demands that residents pay electricity bills, something that has sparked row in the county.

Since the row over bills payment, local authorities have kept a distance not until Friday, December 26, 2020, when technical staffers of Creway Energy Power Association (CEPA) were rounded up and jailed by District Superintendent Alysious William.

According to Superintendent William, his took the action due to disrespect demonstrated by CEPA staff during a visit to the county last year by Speaker Bhofal Chambers.

He narrated that prior to Christmas celebration in the county, he received a complaint from staffers of the Creway Energy Power Association and the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Maryland Chapter, demanding pay rise, bill payment by residents and safety gears, among others.

Mr. William continued that the staffers maintained if their demands were not timely addressed by citizens and head office in Monrovia, they would have taken unspecified actions, which eventually led them putting the entire county in complete darkness for several days.

The District Superintendent said this action was carried out when Speaker Chambers was in the county for the Christmas festivities, so he (William) ordered the aggrieved staffers’ arrest and imprisonment and impounded the vehicle of Mr. Wallace Dennis, the team manager.

The arrest and imprisonment led to disagreement among citizens, prompting intervention by Maryland County Superintendent, George A. Prowd.

Superintendent Prowd subsequently called one day mass citizens meeting at the Pleebo City Hall attended by various stakeholders including members of the Muslim and Christian communities, local authorities, direct users of electricity, Mr. Wallace Dennis and his technical staff, among orders.

The meeting ended with local authority and residents of Pleebo Sodoken district asked to manage electricity in the district.

“I have listened to several complaints from citizens of Pleebo concerning this current business, therefore I am informing you as local authority of the district to set up a committee that will control the current”, Superintendent Prowd instructed.

The contentious issue now seems to be who should appoint the committee and its composition.

Recently, several citizens called on a local community radio station and expressed dissatisfaction over District Superintendent William setting up a committee to manage the electricity rather than the Mayor of Harper City, who is the direct representative of the city.

According to them, the move by Mr. William has the propensity to undermine smooth working relationship in the district, noting that the power is directly used by residents of the city, not the whole district.

The citizens said although the committee members and the District Superintendent have been monitoring irregularities, instabilities and corrupt malpractices involving the supply of electricity, but they should scrutinize those coming onboard and make sure they account for funds raised to buy the two community transformers, because they represented the various zones.

The citizens disclosed that the issue of who should set up a committee in order to control the district current after it has been turned over to the local authority is another concern that needs critical attention.

Though the district authorities have not come up with new names after the previous committee appointed by Statutory Superintendent William frowned at by citizens, a new technical team headed by Brown Y. Dennis, is calling on residents to pay maintenance fees directly to his office.

On Monday, August 10, 2020 the President of the Maryland County Youth Association Thomas Kuma, said it is clear that citizens in the county shouldn’t pay electricity bills other than maintenance fees because the power being used in the county was initiated under the Poverty Reduction Strategy of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, arguing that it has not been formally turned over to the Weah administration.

According to him, since the Ghanaian electrification group planted light poles and installed primary or tension wires, no company has won bid for the power distribution.

He claimed former Maryland County Superintendent Betsy Kouh Toe only asked Mr. Wallace Dennis to serve as caretaker, and he has not won a bid either.

Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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