The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, yesterday made a major announcement, concerning the Weah administration’s commitment to improve the lives of the Liberian people.
Speaking at a signing ceremony yesterday involving his Ministry and the European Union (EU), Minister Tweah disclosed that an EU grant of 18.9 million Euros (US$21.5 million) is to provide funding for a Nigerian electricity company to provide electric power to 38,000 people in some of the poorest parts of the capital city, Monrovia.
Among the areas targeted for this major electricity connectivity are Peace Island area, TB Annex (from the Congo Town back road to ELWA Junction, GSA Road, Zubah Town, Rehab Road, SKD Sports Complex (around), Rock Crusher, LBS, and behind the German Embassy in Congo Town.
The provision of electricity to these largely depressed areas in the capital city will go a long way in ensuring that the Weah government’s “pro-poor” agenda in national development is reaching where it matters — the people who really need it.
We hope and pray for three things to happen in the wake of this great initiative designed to help our people. First, company, MBH Power Limited, which has agreed to undertake the design and construction of electricity distribution network in these parts of Monrovia, will do everything in its power to address the increased demand for energy in the above mentioned areas. The Liberian people will expect MBH Power Limited to execute this contract to the letter, so that our people in these depressed areas of Monrovia will, at long last, get the power relief they have be yearning for over decades, and which President George Weah has promised them.
The second thing we pray for is that the people themselves will show their appreciation to their President, to the entire government and to the European Union by cooperating with the contractors as they do their work to bring the people the electricity they desperately need.
Why do we ask for the people’s cooperation? Because we recall that few years ago as the technicians progressed on the building of Somalia Drive, the very people whom the four-lane expansion and paving of the Drive were meant to help were stealing the contractors’ crutched rocks, tools and equipment and causing many other problems. This must not happen with the impending electricity expansion.
We pray, thirdly, that that the employees of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) will be faithful to their duties by extending every cooperation and assistance to the Nigerian firm doing the connections. We have heard too many complaints against LEC crews who have failed to bring electricity to the poor and deprived because these hapless people are unable to pay the US$300 demanded by LEC technicians, even though these poor and underprivileged customers have bought their meters and done the proper registration.
One poor woman customer was once told by an LEC technician, “I guarantee that you will get your lights by tomorrow morning, once pay me the US$300.” It has been over two years now since she got her meter and this poor woman, who makes a living by selling rice bread, still has no lights.
Yet the same LEC people complain of power theft. Is it not true that it is this kind of selfish, corrupt and anti-development behavior on the part of very LEC people that encourages this power theft and numerous other problems?
The LEC senior management must do a better job at monitoring and supervising their technicians in the field, if they ever expect to minimize or end power theft.
Another very important announcement that Minister Tweah made at Thursday’s signing ceremony concerned the EU’s serious financial investment in TVET institutions. Said Minister Tweah: “If we must provide electricity to all our people, we need to train more electricians who will bring electric power to the people. Then would not need to send to Ghana or anywhere else to find electricians to do these jobs.”
Yes, the EU, few years ago during the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, pledged over US$20 million to empower the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), the Monrovia Vocational and Technical Training Center (MVTC) and other vocational and technical institutions to improve their programs.
We are sure we can depend on Finance and Development Planning Minister Tweah, who is committed to his mission of bringing development to Liberia, to do everything in his power to ensure the successful implementation of the EU plan to improve TVET education in all these institutions. In this way, Liberia will raise the competent man and woman power to develop Liberia not only through electricity but in all aspects of agriculture and industrialization.