Power theft a plausible cause, say few residents in the area
By Tina S. Mehnpaine
Fire has destroyed a six-bedroom house in the Telecom community, Paynesville, adding to similar incidents that had left many people homeless with some dead.
The incident, according to eyewitnesses, occurred on Sunday, February 17, 2020, at about 3 pm. Speaking with the Daily Observer, Ma Damawa Johnson, the house owner, said that the fire was caused by electrical shock.
She said nearly everyone in the community subscribe to the utility service of the Liberia Electricity Corporation. Narrating her distressing experience, Ma Johnson claimed that there was a wrong connection made by individuals believed to be agents of LEC, which led to this colossal damage.
She said she was not around when the fire started and thanked God that nobody died during the incident.
However, she added, she had previously warned tenants about using LEC current wrongfully, but her warning was ignored. “I have talked about this current business until I tire na,” she said in utter frustration.
According to her, the house has been her only means of income after the death of her husband, leaving her with four children to care for.
Janet Kollie, a victim, told the Daily Observer: “They will always come to us and collect small-small money in the name of fixing current.”
Joseph Kollie, Chairman of the community, also confirmed that there were countless warnings sent out to community dwellers against improper LEC connections, but tenants failed to heed to the warnings, something that he said has resulted in the damage.
Mr. Kollie claimed that about 95% of community dwellers are involved in power theft. “Once they pay small money to these so-called LEC boys they will give the current,” he added.
Mamie Jackson, a neighbor to Mrs. Johnson, said she also warned those who are in the habit of stealing LEC current in the name of Government refusal to electrify the entire country. According to her, she has received insults from many people every time she raises alarm over power theft, adding that on many occasions she had been threatened by some individuals.
“People threaten to beat me every time I want to call LEC people here,” she added.
Meanwhile, those affected by the fire include Ma Damawah Johnson, the house owner, as well as Marie Makola, Joseph Paker, Princess Markol, Watta Johnson, Roland Mark and Tetee John.