It has been reported that over US$200K in revenues may have been lost to power theft operators in Double Bridge Truck Garage Community, located on Somalia Drive, Monrovia, in the last eight months.
LEC’s Deputy Managing Director for Commercial Services, J. Famatta Kallon Sirleaf, who led an ambush operation for more than one hour that uprooted a stockpile of cables and wires buried underground in the area, decried the “persistent theft of power in the various communities which is undermining progress in the energy sector.”
She said while the LEC has introduced internal reforms to ensure effective customer support services, there are unpatriotic Liberians who are determined to frustrate LEC’s determination to ensure smooth and affordable power supply for all.
“Look at the number of wires and cables pulled from this community and you will know that we have grave challenges.
“We spend huge resources for fuel and other materials to provide services to consumers and yet we are frustrated because what we put out is not recouped simply because a syndicate goes on in several communities to undermine our efforts,” she lamented. Madam Sirleaf vowed to reinforce the corporation’s campaign to fight power theft.
During the sting operation that also affected Amagashie Community next door, technicians, armed with shovels and ladders, dug in several locations, pulling out wires and cables and cutting off wires jammed and connected to meters on poles.
Residents admitted that they are charged U$10 per individual per week by the syndicates, in an area that hosts more than 200 residents.
Four meters were seized from homes and poles, with a particular meter that has been registered to someone on the Old Road Community since 2013, according to Mr. Owen Richards, who is LEC’s point man with his team responsible for uprooting power theft.
“I was in this community seven months ago but did not come across this meter so it could be one of what is known as a ‘walking meter’ which people sell to others, who then take it to another community,” he said. Community residents watched the operation yesterday without incident or backlash, under the intense watch of police officers.
Richards said the fight against power theft is colossal with risks of personal safety to himself and his team because many people who are aware of their work sometimes plot to harm them.
Meanwhile, during yesterday’s campaign, a woman was arrested by police officers on guard with Richard’s team, when she offered L$3,000 so that her meter, which she admitted was connected by ‘someone,’ could be ignored.
“She said she could give us additional money, but she admitted that she had been receiving free current,” Richards said. “Although power theft falls within economic crimes against the state, any form of punishment to offenders is not dispensed therefore those caught stealing power are not normally punished to deter others from doing the same. It makes us to look bad and we find our efforts against power theft not bearing much fruit.”
Responding to Richards’ statement, DMD Sirleaf said efforts are underway to ensure that those caught stealing power are punished by law.
She said there is no justification for any Liberian to steal power, because restoring power to benefit the country is a gradual process.