Residents of Gbarngay Town (on Airfield shortcut) in Monrovia yesterday told a team of Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) officials at the end of an interactive session on power theft and community empowerment that they are ready to fight power theft in the community.
LEC’s Public Relations Specialist Mambu James Kpargoi, who was assisted by Public Relations Officer Winston Bedell and LEC Assistant Manager Owen Richards, told the large gathering that the LEC is reaching out to them to ensure that they work together to provide their energy needs.
Kpargoi said the community engagement is aimed at creating a healthy relationship with an area that is noted for ‘power theft,’ which is something that works against the progress of the government’s determination to provide energy to all.
“Power theft is costly because while it reduces government’s revenue, it also puts extensive pressure on transmitters that are designed to shoulder a certain amount of load, along with the danger of someone getting killed as a result,” he said.
Assistant Manager Owens Richards, who runs a team responsible to counter the power theft menace in Monrovia and its environs, explained to the gathering what it takes to provide electricity to customers and the necessity for the Gbarngay Town community to take ownership of their transformer when they are eventually reconnected.
The community’s transformer blew up five months ago leaving only a section of the people with access to electricity from the LEC. Community residents said the cause for the increase in power theft was, to a larger degree, the slow and sometimes lack of response of LEC when it is contacted by its customers.
“I blame LEC for power theft in our community,” a resident said, “because when you are having problems with your meter and call on the LEC for assistance, you people don’t respond as expected.”
Richards admitted that such inaction was due to challenges that are now being overcome and assured the gathering that the LEC is implementing measures to address that.
“We appeal to you to remain patient as the LEC delivers its services to you in the next few months,” Richards said. He told them that LEC is presently operating on a 28-megawatt transmitter and would add 10 megawatts in September, with an additional 22 megawatts in the middle of December this year.
“When all these are done,” Richards assured them, “you can enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply.” The gathering was interested in when their damaged transformer would be restored and Richards said it would be done in a few months, since such materials have to come from abroad.
Bedell answered several questions, after providing an overview on how to register for a service, and said since he was convinced that there were good people in Gbarngay Town, they should therefore work hard to protect what they own.
The residents called on the LEC to work with the community’s leadership in monitoring power supply to the community. They agreed to set up a special committee to ensure that those who steal power, after the transformer is restored, are reported to the LEC management.
“When that time comes, we want those who are reported stealing power to be punished to serve as a warning for others,” a resident said, which the LEC officials agreed to.