After losing US$35M yearly
President George Weah on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, submitted for enactment into law a bill to amend the Penal Law, Chapter 15, by adding thereto a new section 15.88 to provide for Power Theft to be considered a crime that sabotages country’s development.
President Weah reminded the lawmakers in his communication that power theft damages the country’s economic development, “and is a crime akin to sabotaging the economy, it destroys life and property when dangerous when illegal connections are made, sometimes causing fire outbreak.”
Weah furthered that the high cost of electricity is also a direct result of massive power theft in the country, noting, “There have been demonstrations in so many communities where transformers are overloaded by illegal customers due to power theft.”
He added, “Statistics show that 10 percent of power theft will cost the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) US$8 million today, because of the increase in illegal connections, which the LEC is losing in excess of US$35 million per year to electricity theft. This huge loss is preventing the LEC from extending supply to many areas of the country where citizens are crying out for electricity, and also preventing the corporation from connecting many businesses that can offer much needed employment opportunities to many Liberians.”
President Weah then expressed confidence that the Legislature will enact into law the Act, which he said will improve the country’s energy sector in support of the government’s Pro-poor agenda for Prosperity and Development.
The bill, sponsored by Grand Kru County Peter Coleman was sent to the relevant committees and, due to “the importance attached to it,” were requested to report to plenary within a week from Tuesday, April 20, 2019.
“As good as the bill appears to be, the major problem will be government’s ability and/or willingness to implement punishment for illegal connectors, as most culprits are from either the vote rich slum communities, or even some big names within the LEC system itself,” a former LEC top brass told our reporter. The source added that the illegal connections have now become “a very lucrative business in Monrovia, involving foreign nationals, some of them illegal residents.”