Increasing power theft, which has resulted in losses of U$4,000 daily and U$200,000 monthly, have forced the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to shut down power supply to the borough of New Kru Town.
The Executive Director for Administration and Human Resources, Vamunyah F. Sheriff, said the decision would remain in force until ways are found to correct the alarming rate of power theft in the community.
He said, however, that Redemption Hospital, which serves the interests of Bushrod Island and other surrounding communities, is not affected by the shut down.
“The losses account for 15 to 20 percent or more, which represents U$200,000 monthly to the company,” he said at the press conference at LEC's Bushrod Island offices last Friday.
Sheriff said the decision followed the conclusion of a series of audits in the borough and its adjacent communities, including Mombo Town, Court House Area, Sannoh Yard, D. Twe and Popo Beach.
Director Sheriff said during the company’s audit, it discovered that more than 300 meters had been removed from over 40 light poles by unscrupulous power rogues.
“This translates to 90% (of the company’s) revenue loss,” he said. “As a result our meters also got damaged in the process and we have to replace them.”
He explained that the disconnection would help to protect, LEC's “equipment and other properties.”
The Director threatened to “shame the people who steal power by publishing their names in local newspapers.”
Sheriff said while the company’s audit is not limited to New Kru Town and its surrounding communities, community leaders must work along with the LEC to own and protect what provides them light.
“You must be part of the solution,” Sheriff said, and urged residents to report those involved in power theft for immediate action, whether an LEC employee, a contractor or a resident in the community.
He said the Liberian economy depends largely on the supply of electricity, and therefore Liberians must not sit idly by and allow few others to damage LEC facilities and throw the country back.
He appealed to community leaders and the youths across Monrovia and its environs, to stand up and help LEC combat power theft.
Meanwhile, Sheriff said the LEC would initiate a process to return power to those who are not involved in power theft, and that “the just [would] not suffer with the unjust.”
Ina his intervention, Chief Financial Officer John Burke explained the huge cost of fuel that is needed to sustain electricity to consumers.
“It’s like any of those selling cold water in a bag,” Burke said. “You take L$100 worth of water and you sell two bags and the rest is gone.”
In New Kru Town, a cross section of residents interviewed by the Daily Observer agreed with the decision but said, as already mentioned, the “just must not suffer with the unjust.”
“Not everyone in New Kru Town and other affected areas are involved in power theft,” a 34-year-old mother of two, Christiana Weah, said, “the LEC must make a way for those who have purchased their chips to enjoy their purchase.”
Residents said it has been two weeks since information filtered to the community that the Liberia Electricity Corporation, LEC, had decided to disconnect the Borough, due to power theft, though at the press conference the LEC said the community was informed of its action ahead of the disconnection.