-Management plans ‘new strategy’ by next year
Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Chief Executive Officer, John Ashley, says the corporation is losing US$35 million to power theft, a situation that continues to hamper the entity’s effective function.
Ashley made the disclosure on Friday, December 7, 2018, at a news conference held at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Monrovia. He said that the LEC is currently generating US$1.4 million monthly, while a large quantity of its revenue is abused by “electricity thieves.”
Mr. Ashley said the loss is caused by illegal connections, bypassing meters, damaged meters, non-payment of bills, and misreading of meters for postpaid customers.
The situation, he said, has resulted to the LEC generating little funds to undertake much needed repair and maintenance programs.
“The illegal connections are causing transformers to burn out. Currently, over 80 transformers across Monrovia are burned out, thereby causing many of the communities to go for weeks without power supply,” Ashley said.
He said with support of members of the Board, the corporation has put in place an “emergency procurement of 90 transformers.”
He added, “We have a contract with a local Liberian transformer repair company, who can repair and deliver 10 transformers per week, but again, it has almost 100 damaged transformers for repair that are yet to be delivered.”
Mr. Ashley said the LEC has now changed 14 damaged transformers over the last 10 days, but have planned to ramp up the effort as more transformers become available.
Additionally, up to September 2018, LEC had new meters, “and so we have access to 3,000 meters, and we are procuring 2,500 more from the corporation’s own meager resources.”
He further said that the German Donor KfW is procuring 5,000 meters for LEC, and Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia is also procuring additional 2,500 meters.
“Our priority is to replace those damaged meters and connect those people who have paid for a connection but have not been connected. Our next priority is new connections in areas where networks exist,” Mr. Ashley said.
He said LEC has commenced an intensive community engagement campaign aimed at getting community members to take ownership of their transformers and to police networks that would prevent illegal connections.
Since the campaign was launched, Ashley said it has succeeded so far, with community dwellers appreciating LEC authorities.
“We hereby call on community dwellers to be patient, while LEC management go about addressing the challenges. People should desist from protesting as it delays our efforts to address issues faced by the LEC,” Mr. Ashley assured residents.
He said that the corporation has planned to move away from direct cash transactions of any kind. Beginning 2019, customers will be allowed to use bank transfers and mobile money for all transactions with LEC when the new program is enacted.
“We are in discussions with the banks and mobile money operators to implement this as early as possible in the new year,” Ashley said.