Liberia: Govt, EU Light up Peace Island as Part of US$63 Million Electricity Project in Monrovia & Suburbs
Monrovia – The Government of Liberia and the European Union have lighted up Peace Island Community under the ‘Light Up Monrovia project’ with a call on residents to desist from power theft and take ownership of the electricity in their communities and homes.
Residents of Peace Island Community, located in Congo Town, Monrovia were ecstatic and all out jubilant as they welcomed President George Weah and the European Union Head of Delegation Laurent Delahousse and their entourage to light up their community.
The community is the first to be electrified under the ‘Light Up Monrovia project’, a US$63 million scheme supported by the EU through the Monrovia Consolidation of Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project. It is expected to connect 38,000 homes.
Speaking at the event on Friday, President Weah said the electrification of Peace Island Community and other suburbs of Monrovia will drive development, provide security and bring together families and communities.
“General lighting is not a luxury, but instead, a necessity,” President Weah averred.
Quoting several verses from the Holy Bible, the President noted that God’s reference to light is a testament that light is so precious, and admonished community members to protect the facilities from being destroyed or stolen.
President Weah said his concern about the facility’s safety is due to the unpleasant reports that unknown individuals have begun destroying the newly planted light poles along the Tubman Boulevard, adding, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
He thanked the EU through the Head of its Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Delahousse for the immense support and pledged his government’s commitment to fostering a continued EU/Liberia relation.
Also speaking, Ambassador Delahousse, declaring President Weah as “Darkness Medicine,” pledged the EU Member States’ continued support to Liberia’s development drive. Some of these supports, he noted are resulting to the benefits of electricity reaching to communities and homes. He stressed that illegal connection is unjustifiable and endanger people’s lives, while admonishing residents and the public to do away with power theft.
He said: “Yes, people want power, people need power. But I must reaffirm that, as we just saw in the play, illegal connections to the electrical grid are unjustifiable: stealing electricity is not only an offence punishable by law, it also puts in danger the lives of many, with the risk of explosions and fires caused by the illegal overloading of the grid. And when electricity comes, it will have to be paid for, so that LEC can bring electricity to more people.”
Speaking further, he expressed concern on the urgency and need for all Liberians to become connected to the electricity grid as soon as possible, adding that electricity has positive consequences for the promotion of social and human development for women and children.
And through the Monrovia Consolidation of Electricity Transmission and Distribution Project, to support the government of Liberia in its effort to provide electricity to all citizens.
He revealed that in respond to the call of the government on development partners to prioritize training and technical education for beneficiaries, this project has already funded a traineeship and more than 40 young engineers, all Liberian girls and boys, have been trained by the contractor for six months during the execution of this project. Some of them have already secured stable employment, he said.
Providing an overview, Henry V. Kimber, Project Manager-LEC said the project is intended to strengthen LEC grid in various parts of Monrovia.
Kimber further stated the lighting of Peace Island and streets across Monrovia as well as the interconnection of the regional electricity grid is the beginning of the ‘big light’ that was spoken about yesterday, adding, “It’s small light yesterday, big light today.”
“Peace Island is the first to be connected under this project, but this comes with a responsibility to ensure that the LEC be allowed to do the necessary things to ensure that electricity reach across the community.”
However, he maintained that in other for LEC to extend, beneficiaries will have to pay their bills, adding “If you are able to use one dollar a month, pay the one dollar, because this will empower LEC to do more work.”
Mr. Kimber informed the community members that they will not have to pay for transformer, wire or poles, stressing that those items will be brought by LEC free of charge.
According to him, the arrival of electricity will erase darkness and lonely streets during the night hours at Peace Island underscored the residents’ responsibility to protect this effort against those who will be involved with power theft.
Responding to the residents’ request, President Weah pledge to pave the road linking the community with Tubman Boulevard. He noted that it would not auger well for Community members to commute under electricity on a deplorable road, adding “When the light comes, there must be pave streets.”
He then instructed Acting Public Works Minister Ruth Cooper Collins and Finance Minister Samuel D. Tweah to ensure the construction of the Peace Island Community Road to complement the electrification process in that area.
Meanwhile, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel D. Tweah informed the gathering that aside from the Peace Island electricity project, government has also signed a US$42 Million rural electricity project with its partner.
Minister Tweah on behalf of government used the opportunity to appeal to the EU for road financing.
“You already know him [President Weah] as bad road and darkness medicines, it will be also good to make some finance available for road project,” Tweah noted.