Amid COVID-19 pandemic, MCA-Liberia assures
The Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia has disclosed that its reconstruction of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Customer Service Center (CSC) remains on schedule.
According to MCA-L’s Project Controls Engineer, Senesee Hemoh, the demolition work on the existing building, at Waterside, in the West Point Community, Monrovia, is completed and the installation of roof framing has commenced. He added that the project began on February 10, 2020, and is temporarily ahead of schedule.
“Even with the disruption caused by COVID-19, we’re still set to turn over a finished building to LEC in August 2020,” Hemoh said.
An earlier pause on most economic activities across the country meant increased costs and shortage of materials on the market. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the project’s Liberian-owned contractor, STARK Foundation Inc., is progressing well with the construction while adhering to health and safety protocols.
At the project site, all workers have been adhering to a mandatory wearing of masks, maintaining social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
The previous CSC was plagued with many deficiencies, including inadequate seating capacity for walk-in customers, poor sanitation facilities, inadequate ventilation, and a lack of efficient technologies to meet customers’ needs. These deficiencies contributed to a lack of comfort and health issues for customers, many who are pregnant women or women with small children, and to LEC customer service agents.
When completed, the reconstructed and remodeled facility will have a comfortable increased seating capacity for over 100 customers, compared to the previous 25 maximum. It will house a modernized CSC comprised of spatial waiting areas, offices for LEC staff, a call center, and toilet spaces inclusive of facilities for physically challenged and disabled persons, better technological tools, and well-trained staff.
The revamping of the CSC is split into two projects. The US$500,000 construction project includes procurement of three vehicles and new furniture. LEC will use the new vehicles to deliver a more effective customer service response in the field. In addition, before construction began, the MCA-L funded the relocation of the LEC customer service department to a temporary facility in Congo Town, off VP Road at Catholic Hospital Junction.
A separate US$576,000 project will also equip the new facility with IT infrastructure and provide training to customer service agents, conducted by Tata Power.
Customers visiting the reconstructed CSC at Waterside or calling and texting the improved 4500 hotline are expected to experience shorter waiting times when visiting and improved response times when calling and texting. They should also experience better tracking of service orders due to an improved link between customer service management and technical staff through a new integrated information management system to which the service center will connect.
The CSC complements MCA-L’s past investments to make LEC a more sustainable and viable public utility. Over the past year, MCA-L has transferred US$1.78 million worth of equipment to LEC, including light poles, transformers, conductors, meters, specialized trucks, and spare parts for thermal generators.
MCA-L also contributed US$146.3 million of the total cost of US$357M for rebuilding the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant, along with financing a three-year management services contractor to turn LEC into a more efficient and profitable company.