Local entrepreneurs cry out
By Emmanuel wise Jipoh
The poor power supply is hurting and affecting local businesses, as some local entrepreneurs here cry out for what they attribute to power theft.
Speaking to the NEW DAWN, Peter Massaquoi, who runs Jesse Bar in Neezo community, Paynesville, expressed frustration with the ongoing poor electricity supply, noting that this is driving investors away from Liberia.
The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) that was completely revamped by the Government of Liberia with support of foreign partners and friendly governments after the 14 years of civil war, still faces distribution challenges.
Despite interventions, about 85 percent of Monrovia residents still lack access to electricity, leaving many unscrupulous persons to resort to power theft.
Several communities in the capital, including Neezo in Paynesville, Slipway and Capitol Bye-Pass in Central Monrovia, New Georgia Estate in Gardnerville as well as New Matadi and Lakpakzee communities in Sinkor, have expressed total frustration over persistent power outages due to illegal connections that have damaged several transformers and meters.
Residents lament that they have struggled to deal with power theft that is hugely affecting their businesses, causing shocks in homes and damaging appliances.
Eric Philips, another resident of Neezo community in Paynesville said irregular power supply is causing serious problems for his business, noting that people purporting to be employees of the Liberia Electricity Corporation are illegally connecting power lines which are increasing power theft.
Though partners, including Millennium Challenge Corporation and the European Union, among others, have spent hundreds of millions to reconstruct the Mount Coffee Hydro aimed at ensuring adequate power supply, power outages have become the order of the day in and around Monrovia.
“We are tired and sick of LEC attitude; our goods continue to damage because they can’t survive without current”, said Lorpu Smith, a resident of Slipway community.
During a recent visit to Bentol City, as part of his tour of Montserrado county, citizens demanded the President electrify Bentol.
“The Mount Coffee power grid is located in Careysburg; the district we are part of, it’s so disgusting to see the county’s capital without current. Mr. President, please see reasons to electrify Bentol”, Montserrado county Superintendent Ms. Florence Brandy, pleaded on behalf of residents during a town hall meeting with President Weah.
At the same time, residents and traders in Monrovia, including proprietors of entertainment centers, printing presses and private homes have alarmed that inadequate hydroelectric power remains a basic challenge for them.
A NEW DAWN’s survey established that many companies and offices spend about 25 percent of their monthly to run private generators in maintaining electricity in their respective facilities.
On October 6, 2018, the Government of Liberia and the European Union signed a grant agreement, totaling 18.9 million Euros (approximately US $21.5 million) for Lot Two of the Consolidation of Monrovia Electricity Distribution Project to boost the power sector.
Also, to increase access to electricity in the country, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) granted US$257 million to Liberia Compact (2016–2021) to encourage economic growth and reduce poverty by improving access to reliable and affordable electricity.
The Compact funded the $202 million Energy Project to generate low-cost power by rehabilitating the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant to enhance its capacity and establish an independent regulator.
The project aims to increase production and distribution of low-cost, quality electricity, reduce tariffs and user costs for affordable electric power. Editing by Jonathan Browne