Liberia: Jallah Town Residents Stage Violent Protest Demanding Electricity; Say It’s More Useful to Them than ‘Presidential Street Lights’

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MONROVIA – Hundreds of aggrieved residents of the Jallah Town Community in Monrovia during the early morning hours of Monday, February 8 staged a violent protest, setting roadblocks stalling normal working, business, and academic activities, in demand of the effective and efficient supply of stable and affordable electricity to their homes and businesses by the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).

The aggrieved residents complained that for nearly three years now, their homes and businesses are yet to be connected by the LEC despite countless numbers of efforts applied by them.

They claimed that the government, particularly authorities of the LEC, has been allegedly playing deaf ears to ensure the restoration of electricity to their community.

In addition to setting road blocks, the aggrieved residents also chanted anti-government slogans and held placards with inscription: “the way power sweet, that’s the way current sweet; Jallah Town is a total dark community; No Current, No Passage; Access to current is our right; among others in the presence of officers of the Police Support Unit (PSU) of the Liberian National Police (LNP).

“Since January 3, 2019 up to present, we have not received current. Our people survive from cold water, cool aid, and sour milk selling. We do not have any worker here with government; NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) nothing. So, today we are here to say enough is enough.”

– Patrick Karmo, Jallah Town Community Chairman

The protesters claimed that more attention is being given to the installation of street lights by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led-government of President George Manneh Weah as compare to the supply of public electricity to homes, businesses, as well as the replacement of damaged or stolen transformers from various communities in Monrovia and other parts adjacent.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Frontpage Africa during the protest, the Chairman of the Jallah Town Community, Patrick Karmo, disclosed that multiple communications have been sent to the leadership of the LEC and the district and county leaders, but all of those efforts have not yielded fruitful results.

He stated that the protest was staged by the residents as the last remedy to find solution to resolving the situation.

 “Since the upgrading process of the LEC, Jallah Town community has been out of current. On January 3, 2019, we sent the first community to LEC. I wrote another communication to the LEC on August 6 the same 2019. From there, I wrote another communication to the LEC on August 29, 2019. Since 2019 up to present, I have written over 16 communications. We have protested at the Capitol Building and wrote lawmakers and others, but nothing has changed”

Endangering survivability

Mr. Karmo pointed out that the prolong delay by the LEC to connect homes and businesses in the Jallah Town community in a timely manner is allegedly posing additional hardship on the already impoverished citizens.

He alleged that citizens’ livelihoods have been threatened as a result of the situation.

According to him, most of the residents within the slum Jallah Town Community heavily depend on the sale of local cooling commodities to take care of them and their respective family members.

Mr. Karmo added that the unavailability of public electricity makes it difficult for these local Liberian business men and women to reserve those commodities in their respective storage facilities

“Since January 3, 2019 up to present, we have not received current. Our people survive from cold water, cool aid and sour milk selling. We do not have any worker here with government; NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) nothing. So, today we are here to say enough is enough”.

He added that the lack of street lights in Jallah Town makes the community vulnerable, especially during the night hours.

Lawmaker representing himself

Representative Acarous Moses Gray, an Executive Committee Member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is directly representing the people of the Jallah Town Community and other communities in district # 8 in the 54th National Legislature.

The CDC lawmaker has been persistently accused by his constituents of allegedly playing “lackadaisical and lukewarm” attitude towards the restoration of public electricity in the community.

The locals accused him of not showing any real interest towards the improvement of their living conditions since he purchased a fabulous and extravagant compound, including exotic house with swimming pool outside of the district few years ago.

They also claimed that their lawmaker is now living an “extravagant lifestyle” which prevents him from associating or identifying with them as compare to the time he needed political power.

Mr. Karmo claimed that Representative Gray is not seeking the interest of those who elected him at the level of the national legislature.

“Our Representative is representing himself. He communicated with me this morning telling me that he has exerted all efforts to LEC, but to no avail. He (Acarous Gray) may be support, but he didn’t tell us”.

Constant protest predicted

He pointed out that residents of the community will not hesitate to stage unstoppable and countless numbers of peaceful protests if the Liberian Chief Executive fails to compel LEC to ensure the restoration of electricity to their homes and businesses or attach urgency to their situation

Mr. Karmo said though aggrieved residents of the community are cognizant of the fact that they are infringing on the rights of other citizens, the decision taken by government to delay their reconnection aggravated them to stage the protest action.

No turning back

 “We will continue to protest on a daily basis; if they like they can arrest us every day; it is our right to get current. Why is it that George Weah has current? That’s not his right? So, I do not have right to get current too?  We are not compromising”.

Chairman Karno, however, denied that community dwellers of Jallah Town are allegedly engaged into power theft, but called for the empowerment of young people to combat against the menace.

For his part, a youth leader of the Jallah Town Community, Blama Sarnor claimed that criminal activities have intensified in the community over the years as a result of the lack of public electricity.

He termed as false and misleading accusations that community dwellers of Jallah Town are most often engaged into power theft.

According to him, the LEC has not been able to carry on its statutory responsibility to ensure the supply of electricity to households and businesses in an effective and efficient manner.

“The students here cannot study properly during the evening hours; they have transformers keeping but they said they can’t give us transformer because we are involved into power theft. Where is the evidence? We say if they cannot give us electricity, we will block the road until the President can speak about it”.

Protecting transformers

Sarnor, however, expressed the hope and confidence that residents of the community will safeguard the transformers and fight against power theft if government sees reason to ensure that the community is reconnected with public electricity.

He observed that though the LEC accorded other communities the opportunities to sign separate commitments to ensure the protection of newly replaced transformers to discourage power theft, the Jallah Town Community has not been accorded similar preference.

Earlier intervention made by the Deputy inspector General of the LNP to discourage the protesters to abandon their action did not materialize.

The protest was later called off following the intervention and arrival of a representative of the LEC in the community, who assured that the situation will be addressed in a timely manner.

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