Alleged Fuel Thefts At Water & Sewer Undermines World Bank’s COVID-19 Support To Liberia
Monrovia – Following several incidents of alleged massive fuel thefts reportedly orchestrated by some top management staff of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, FrontPage Africa has gathered from sources within the LWSC that the situation is undermining the World Bank’s effort to provide free pipe-borne water to Liberians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, daffae.[email protected]
In April this year, LWSC requested assistance from the World Bank through its current COVID-19 response project. And the World Bank, in response, provided support, which includes water treatment chemical, diesel fuel to pump water from White Plains to Monrovia and its environs as well as provide other water and sanitation services for three months.
Additionally, the World Bank provided 59,000 gallons of diesel fuel. It was delivered to LWSC in early May this year. The diesel fuel is intended to power the corporation’s standby generators at its treatment plant and dislodge waste from the COVID-19 treatment centers.
Sources within LWSC say the fuel has since been diverted for different use including non-LWSC operational activities, which is against the purpose for which the fuel was provided by the World Bank.
The recent incident of the alleged organized fuel theft occurred on Wednesday, June 3 when 5,000 gallons of diesel was loaded on a truck with plate number C.42770.
According to two LWSC gate passes obtained by FPA, the 5,000 gallons was intended for two outstation facilities in Buchanan and Kakata but it is unclear whether the fuel was taken there.
In two other earlier incidents, over 10,000 gallon of diesel fuel were taken away from the White Plains treatment center. On May 21, over 5,000 gallons were discharged from White Plains while another 5,000 gallons were also taken away on May 28, according to documents obtained by FPA.
Although the time on the passes mentioned morning hours, 7:29 AM and 10:43 AM, the fuel was physically removed from the facility at about 3 AM in the morning.
During late night hours of June 3, agents of the National Security Agency, which has its office within the vicinity of the LWSC, arrested the fuel tanker, but the truck was later released follow the intervention of top LWSC management staff.
Nimpson Todd, communications director of LWSC, told FPA in a telephone interview on Tuesday that the management has not considered the lifting of the fuel as theft. He said the LWSC has not reported any incident to the Liberian National Police for Investigation.
“It’s not a theft; it is transportation of product to our field services,” said Tood, who added the corporation has provided “uninterrupted” water supply to its customers in Buchanan and Kakata for the past three months.
Despite the LWSC’s communications directors’ justification for transporting the 15,000 gallons of fuel to the two cities outside Montserrado County, customers in the Kakata and Buchanan cities say water supply has not been regular during the pass months as claim by the corporation.
FPA has gathered that the supply of water in Kakata, Margibi County to less than 300 homes has only been regular for the past two weeks following the availability of electricity by the Liberia Electricity Corporation, which now powers the LWSC station in the county.
In Buchanan, LWSC customers say water supply has not been consistent as claimed by the management in Monrovia. One person told our reporter in the county that water has been “off and on” for the past two weeks.
The allegation of fuel theft is heightening as workers of LWSC are also complaining that they have not received their salaries for the past four months.
The LWSC has always been embroiled in allegations of corruption. Duanah Kamara, Managing Director of LWSC, has faced the most allegations of corruption. He was accused of flooding the payroll with ghost names and was also accused of creating jobs that do not exist at the entity.