The man responsible at the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to root out power theft that has resulted in the loss to the corporation of thousands of dollars, said at a community engagement last Friday in Monrovia, that there can be no compromise on the issue.
Mr. Owens Richards told a meeting with Lakpazee residents that as LEC gradually increases its expansion to connect many communities, it cannot forgive anyone caught stealing power.
“We want you to understand that we want every Liberian to benefit from power but this has come gradually,” Richards said. Other members of his team were Public Relations Specialist Mambui James Kpargoi and Public Relations officer Winston Bedell.
He said the LEC will increase its power generation and distribution by an additional 10 megawatts next month September.
“Many communities will receive service from the LEC and therefore stealing power, which some do by running wires underground that create hazard for residents in a particular area, or by tapping onto someone’s services, must stop,” he said.
The LEC has a system to check the unusual flow of power to communities and there is a team that visits communities unannounced to root out cables that are used to tap and steal current, he said.
“When your cables are rooted out because you were found stealing power, you may not get service for a long period of time,” he explained. The LEC does not presently prosecute individuals for stealing power, but Mr. Kpargoi said the LEC may develop a policy to be able to prosecute those who steal power in future.
He encouraged the residents to be on the lookout for those who claim they are working for the LEC, who are responsible for making illegal connections.
“If anyone comes to you, please ask him for his LEC ID Card. He must wear a jacket with LEC logo on the back and he must have a vehicle also with LEC logo on it; and please, don’t pay money to anyone from LEC.
“Payment to LEC is made at the LBDI and Ecobank and not to individuals,” he said.
Contributing, Bedell told the gathering about the dangers involved in power theft and took them through what he described as a simple process to apply for a meter.
He said meters are assigned to structures and not to individuals and therefore they cannot be transferred to another structure or another location.
Mr. Kpargoi recalled when the government began to provide electricity to the country after the various civil wars damaged all that the country had.
“Today we must be thankful that we have great improvement in the sector and much is being done to ensure that by mid-December the proverbial ‘big light’ will be here,” he said. He appealed to residents to exercise restraint and should not, under any circumstances, be induced to steal power.
“You must own the service,” Kpargoi told them. The interactive discussion helped to provide more answers to residents.
In a summary the residents learned that the LEC is presently using 28 megawatts; that 10 megawatts will be added in September and 22 megawatts by mid-December, to be able to serve more communities, from Monrovia to Kakata, up to Wealla.