The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has called on the public not to pay money to employees of the corporation for services in the field while urging them to take ownership of the power.
Mambu James Kpargoi, Manager of the Information and Public Affairs Department of LEC, told residents of Key Hole, Divine Town, and Nippy Town during a town hall meeting in the Old Road community on Friday, January 4, to resist acts of extortion by individuals claiming to be LEC employees.
Mr. Kpargoi said it is unlawful for individuals to pay money outside of the offices of the LEC. “Payments for our services are made at the banks or at designated vending points, having been issued invoices. Individuals requesting money in the field are extortionists and it is illegal to do business with them,” Kpargoi said.
Mr. Kpargoi assured the residents that the management was serious about ridding the corporation of criminal elements and called on the public to come forward with evidence against LEC employees engaging in malpractices.
“We have acknowledged that there are bad apples within LEC. We want your cooperation to rid the LEC of these unscrupulous elements. Provide us concrete evidence against anyone in the LEC engaging in criminal activities and we will act to remove them from our employ,” he said.
He disclosed that the management has taken additional measures to enable the public to easily identify legitimate LEC employees. All vehicles, Kpargoi noted, have been marked with large bold numbers and crews issued high visibility jackets with unique numbers printed on the back.
He admonished residents to approach crews and request to see their work order if they feel suspicious about their activities.
He said the LEC is suffering huge losses as a result of power theft and urged community residents to take ownership of LEC’s installations and protect them. He said the support from the communities is another effective way to combat power theft.
He thanked the communities for the immense support since the launching of the community engagement campaign.
“This campaign is already proving to be a success. Community residents have joined the war against electricity theft. They have been reporting activities of power theft in their communities. Many of you have even apprehended individuals involved in power theft and turned them over to the police for investigation and subsequent prosecution,” he said.
The chairman of Nippy Town Abraham Dukuly extolled the new partnership being fostered with the communities by the LEC. Dukuly said the new approach was the best way to ensure a two-way communication between the corporation, its customers and the public.
He pledged the communities’ support to the campaign against power theft and urged the LEC to make improvement in the areas of customers’ service and response.
“We will support the LEC to fight power theft by watching over the installations in our communities. However, customer service and response are areas that need serious attention at the LEC. We are asking the LEC management to improve on those two areas. This would ensure that the collaboration you are seeking with the communities is sustained,” Dukuly said.
The LEC recently launched a community engagement campaign within its network area. Already, the campaign has covered 21 communities. During the town hall meetings, residents undertook to protect their installations against the activities of criminals who have made illegal connections to power lines, thus overloading transformers beyond their carrying capacity. Management recently embarked on a project to replace over 96 damaged transformers in various communities.