Residents of the major cities and towns where the power lines are running in Nimba County appear to be getting furious over the delay in the distribution of electricity to their homes and businesses.
Many say the delay in the distribution of electricity is taking a different dimension from late 2013 when distribution first started. Many complaints emanating from every corner of Nimba allude to individuals being required to purchase all materials including meters, poles, and wire and in addition pay technicians for installation before one can be connected.
Residents say that prior to this new situation, electrical connection did not require purchasing of any of these materials once you registered with the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
Since Nimba County was connected to the West Africa Power Line from the Cote d‘Ivoire almost two years ago, power is yet to cover a quarter of the population in places like Ganta, Sanniquellie, Saclepea and Karnplay as well as other towns through which these power lines are passing.
Businesses and residents are yearning daily to get connected to the power lines, but to no avail.
“We have been frustrated by LEC,” said P. Gonleh Dolo of Saclapea City speaking on the radio morning show on Wednesday.
“Whenever, you register your home or business place, LEC is suppose to come and connect your homes without collecting payment for anything like wire from the main line, poles, meters or even transformers, such as what is happening now,” he said.
LEC workers assigned in Nimba County have allegedly been charging US$100 for one meter.
Bobby Kimen, a resident of Ganta, expressed frustration over the slow pace of the distribution process across Ganta and other parts of Nimba.
He said, “I have tried all my best to get my house connected, but to no avail due to the lack of light poles and even wire from the main line.”
Ganta is one of the commercial cities in Liberia where businesses are booming, but delay in supplying electricity to communities remains a serious problem, due to some alleged corrupt practices involving selling of meters, poles and other items.
“How will we be connected when those who are living near the main lines are finding it very hard to be connected,” cried one Elijar Bowyah, a resident of Ganta.
In July 2013, Nimba received electric power from the Ivory Coast under the West Africa Power Pool, funded by European Union and implemented by a Ghanaian firm known as Energy Venture.
The arrival of power was happily received by the citizens, especially those living in cities and large towns through which the power lines pass, but delays in the distribution and alleged corrupt behavior are frustrating customers.
However, the authority of LEC in Nimba has denied any claims of LEC selling meters, poles or even wire to anyone in Nimba, but one LEC agent, who begged anonymity, said that sometimes they charge people little or nothing to enable them get soap and other small things for themselves because most of them are not on LEC payroll.
“We don’t sell any wire or pole and even meters to anyone. The only thing we want you to do is to just get registered with us and we go and do all the connection, including whatsoever is required,” said Joseph Leay, the chief technician.
In September 2013, some Ghanaian electricians working for Energy Venture were booked for allegedly stealing and selling electrical wires and other accessories intended for the project, but what became of the case is yet to be established.
The connection of electricity to homes is said to be dragging due to alleged selling of the materials which were suppose to be installed free of charged in every community.