As Bahn citizens petitioned the County Council for help
The demand for electricity connection is said to be intensifying daily in Nimba County, with the latest instance being the citizens of the Bahn City, central Nimba, calling on the County Council, the highest decision making body in the province, to make budgetary allocation for that mining city to get connected.
As part of the necessities of life, the citizens said they find it difficult getting connected to the Nimba Grid of the Liberia Electricity Corporation, which is managed by the Jungle Energy Power, a company owned by businessman Tomah Seh Flyold of Nimba County.
According to the petition read at the recent Nimba County Council Sitting in Sanniquellie, the citizens, carrying placards and banners in a peaceful demonstration, said all efforts to have JEP connect the City of Bahn to the nearby line in Saclepea, a few kilometers away, has failed because the company said it was expensive to run lines from the main lines in Saclepea.
The aggrieved citizens mentioned that the JEP requested them to pay the amount of US$250,000 to enable the company underwrite the cost of running the electric lines to connect the historic diamond mining city.
Bahn is about 25 minutes drive from Saclepea City, where the JEP lines stopped, but it is yet be connected since the West Africa Power Poll, with funding from EU, facilitated the crossover electrification from the neighboring Ivory Coast in 2012.
Upon the publication on July 10, 2020 in the Daily Observer about the hiking of electricity price by JEP, on July 12, 2020 the JEP in a press conference in Ganta complained of financial problems and that it is still indebted to the electricity provider in the Ivory Coast in the tune of about US$2 million from the LEC.
When contacted, the Manager of JEP, Mr. Aleyou Keita, via mobile phone, he refused to comment.
In December 2016, the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Nimba County Grid, under the West Africa Power Pool (WAPP), was handed over to Jungle Energy Power.
According to the agreement overview between the government and the company, JEP assumes responsibility for the Nimba Grid, providing electricity to communities from Ivory Coast to Saclepea in the central Nimba County.
In one of the clauses, it is agreed that within three years, the power supply will connect at least 7,000 customers. Again, it was agreed and signed that the electricity service should not go off for more than 48 hours unless there was a problem with the supplier line on the Ivorian side. It is not clear how many households have been connected.
The European Commission, through the WAPP, reached the agreement with the Government of Ivory Coast to provide the 33KV line to three locations including the Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland grids.
At the turning over ceremony, then LEC Board Chair, Ian Yhap, urged JEP President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tomah Seh Floyd to seek the interest of beneficiaries of the project.
During the same turning over ceremony Mr. Yap said the LEC will give every support to ensure that the project succeeds and also asked the residents to make wise use of the electricity and avoid power theft that would endanger the lives of others, adding, “the turning over of the Nimba Grid to the JEP is part of the government’s privatization policy to give concessions to the private sector.”
Mr. Floyd expressed satisfaction for taking over the project, something he described as one avenue that the government has opened to impact the lives of rural dwellers, especially those in communities close to the power supply lines.
JEP has repeatedly said the government is responsible for all street lights. Upon taking over, the company removed all street lights, leaving some the cities like Ganta, Saclapea, Sanniquellie and many more in darkness.