Liberia: Combating Power Theft: LEC Urges Community to Take Ownership of Materials
Monrovia – In a bid to curb power theft and ensure proper management of equipment including transformers, the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has called on residents within its network area across Montserrado County to take ownership of all LEC equipment installed in various communities.
Under the “Liberia Electricity Corporation Transformers Replacement Program,” the corporation has begun meeting with cross section of community leaders and residents to educate and give them the authority to manage the LEC equipment including transformers that are being installed in the various communities.
“The first one-day meeting which brought together about 60 community leaders was aimed at informing and educating them to take charge of LEC installation as a means of combating power theft and putting power thieves out of business through a robust community driven approach, having them fully involved in this fight against theft of power which is depriving the corporation of its lawful revenue. Also to strengthen cordiality between the corporation and community dwellers thru their leaders,” said the LEC management in a statement issued over the weekend.
The gathering was geared towards addressing some of the growing challenges confronting customers including the replacement of stolen meters, faulty meters, damaged meters, damaged poles and damaged transformers as well as the issue of response to customers’ queries and complaints.
Speaking during the meeting at a local hotel, the LEC Chief Executive Officer, Paschal Buckley, informed the gathering that the Corporation is experiencing 60 percent loss in revenues, which amounts to US$30 million per annum.
Mr. Buckley noted the situation puts the management of LEC in a difficult financial position to procure adequate and necessary materials for its effective operations. He attributed the loss to the increasing wave of electricity theft being carried out by unscrupulous individuals who portray themselves as employees of LEC.
He described power theft as an act of “economic sabotage” that also affects the economy of the country.
Speaking further, he commended donor partners including the World Bank, European Union, KfW, MCC/MCA-L and the African Development Bank for their continuous support to the corporation amidst its growing challenges.
Highlighting the significance of the new Power Theft Act, Mr. Buckley said the purpose of the law is to establisha system of prohibitions and penalties to deal with theft of electricity.
He added that the Act seeks to recognize and treat power theft as national security threat, to define adequately the various conduct that constitute Power theft and to prescribe penalties which are proportionate to the seriousness of the offense
Brendan O’Connor, LEC Network Supervisor explained to community leaders that LEC employees can be identify by the bold black four digit on the high visibility jackets, identification cards and the large three digits on the pickups and trucks.
He advised that it is also important to ask for their work order which is a ‘must carry’ for every crew. “The importance of Community leaders and residents asking LEC technicians for the above mentioned items is to help identify LEC employees who are engage in illegal works in the community without authorization from the management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation,” Mr. O’Connor said.
He alsodiscouraged community dwellers from paying money to LEC Staff in the field in return for services and informed customers that any financial transactions for services should be done through the bank.
He warned against community leaders collecting money from their constituents as means of paying LEC Field technicians for service being provided to desist because said action contributes ‘seriously’ to the increasing wave of power theft; adding: “communities found to be doing this will have their power disconnected.”
In addition, he called on the community leaders and residents to make written statements and take photos of LEC field technicians who are acting suspiciously to help provide management hard evidence that will aid in prosecuting individuals and LEC employees who are involved in illegal activities.
Meanwhile, the community leaders from across Monrovia and its environs, commended the management of LEC for the significance strides aimed at ensuring that electricity is restored to their communities.
According to them, amidst the numerous challenges confronting the Corporation which has deprived the entity of revenue, they remain united to work in collaboration with LEC management in tackling power theft.