–Says 49% losses hampering entity
The Liberia Electricity Corporation’s chief executive officer, John Ashley, has stressed the need for the corporation to work with lawmakers of the 54th Legislature to set up a special court to handle issues relating to power theft, which now causes the entity to lose 49 percent of its power generation.
The court, if set up, Ashley believes will address the huge losses at the corporation. Mr. Ashley, who spoke with reporters yesterday at the LEC’s Waterside office in Monrovia, said that the corporation losses approximately 49% of power generation to theft, which he considered as ‘alarming and worrisome.’
According to him, commercial losses occur as the result of the theft, non-payment of bills, bypassing the meters and illegal connections of people and businesses.
“We are generating and supplying 100 percent out of the generating stations, but only getting paid for 50 percent, which is unfortunate. This is causing us to lose half of the institution’s revenue that has the propensity to bring the LEC into financial crisis,” he said.
Mr. Ashley said the management is currently planning to launch a forceful campaign to arrest offenders to curtail the losses, which is affecting the corporation, including the supplying of electricity to other communities and businesses. “We are also working with our local and international legal people to ensure that something is done to address the huge power theft,” he said.
Mr. Ashley indicated that the management believes that a small number of LEC employees are also involved in such an act, warning those involved in the illegal connections to desist before they are disgraced publicly.
Additionally, he said “We have US$5 million debt on postpaid customers. We have people receiving their bills and not paying. We have written them with an ultimatum to pay or disconnect them. We also intend to take them to court for them to settle with the corporation.”
Unfortunately for the LEC management, he said, “We engaged the new Minister of Finance and Development Planning recently, and got US$2.5 million, which was used to purchase materials, including fuel. We are already in the dry season and the river has gone low, and unable to run the hydro plant.”
He indicated that the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) also owed the corporation US$1.7 million, while the Government of Liberia owed the management US$3.2 million. Mr. Ashley further indicated that the LEC is finding it difficult to connect more customers, because of the huge losses the management is undergoing.
“We are also putting into place a mechanism to connect customers who applied for electricity earlier and have paid, but never received or got connected up to date. We have limited meters to supply those who are found in such a situation,” he said.
In order to address the situation, he said the management is working on a plan to have a flat rate, which will be based on the number of appliances in an individual’s home. “We will issue a monthly bill in line with the flat rate. Money generated from the flat rate will be used to purchase meters for the same customers who will subsequently get access to meters,” he said.