Liberia Electricity Corporation, Communities Sign MoU to Safeguard Transformers Under The Presidential Transformer Replacement Project
MONROVIA – The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and the leaderships of about 20 communities in Monrovia and its environs have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at ensuring that local leaders take full ownership and protection of transformers installed on light poles in their respective communities.
The MOU was signed on Thursday, December 17, at the head offices of the LEC Down Waterside in Monrovia under the Presidential Transformer Replacement Project.
The project was recently launched by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government of President George Manneh Weah to ensure the swift replacement of stolen or damaged transformers in various slums and other communities in Monrovia and other parts adjacent.
It was launched following the staging of series of violent and peaceful protests respectively by citizens of most areas that have been affected as a result of damaged or stolen transformers.
The project is jointly being implemented by the LEC, Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs as well as the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Community leaders that signed the MOU came from various communities including New Mataldi Left and Right Wing, 12th, 14th and 15th Streets in Sinkor, Lakpazee, SDA Cooper, Kpelle Town, SKD Complex, London, Perry Street, and 540 communities.
Other communities are: Police Academy, Rehab, Kendeja, Fiamah, South Africa Community, and People’s Community.
For more than two years, some of these communities have not benefited from public electricity as a result of either a damaged or stolen transformer saga.
During the signing ceremony, the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), Pascal Buckley, signed on behalf of the corporation, while the Chairmen or Co-Chairmen of the communities signed on behalf of their areas.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Buckley urged local leaders to be “security” for their own transformers.
He added that though the task would be huge for local leaders, they should be more vigilant, effective and efficient by safeguarding their transformers from thieves and other who are engaged into illegal connections.
He pointed out that the funding for the project was made possible by the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
Buckley observed that the timely replacement of damaged transformers in the communities by the LEC has been one of the major concerns of citizens, including customers.
“It is very important that the communities take security of their own transformers. The big issue that we had is the replacement of those transformers”.
Buckley pointed that about 2000 new transformers will be installed to replace the damaged or stolen ones within the beneficiary communities under the project.
He, however, urged local leaders to combat against power theft within their communities by ensuring that additional connections are not made on the transformers that have been installed, or will be installed in their respective communities.
According to him, those stealing electricity are not only robbing the government from the needed revenue generation, but they are also stealing from customers and threatening their lives and properties.
For his part, the Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Abdul Koroma, disclosed that the project would significantly contribute to the security and educational needs of citizens and foreign residents in Liberia.
He indicated that the signing of the MOU is a strategy implored by the implementers to guarantee the durability of the transformers that would be replaced and installed in the communities.
“The signing of the MOU is basically the role of the communities or the citizens in protecting their own transformers. We want to sustain the services whether it is water or electricity. And this is why you are seeing us here today”.
Koroma pointed out that the project will also help boost economic activities in various communities that will be benefiting from the project.
“I spoke to some community members and they said they need these things for economic viability. Some of them have to sell cold water and they need electricity. Without that, they are unable to send their children to school”.
He further called for the establishment of Task Forces in various districts across Montserrado to curtail power theft and safeguard transformers.
Koroma urged authorities of the LEC to prioritize and attend to the call lines of the corporation at all times to address the concerns or problems being raised or faced by customers and other members of the public.
He noted that immediate responses must be provided by the corporation to citizens expressing problems with their lines or meters.
Koroma proposed what he called “random checking of lines” by LEC’s monitors to help curtain power theft.
Speaking on behalf of the community leaders, the Chairlady of the New Matadi Estate, Janet Sonpon-Sarsih, commended the Liberian government and those who assiduously and tirelessly worked to ensure the commencement of the project.
She noted that the task appear like a “full time employment” for community leaders.
She challenged authorities of the LEC to address the provision of electricity of households that do not have meters if the project is to go on smoothly.
Madam Sonpon-Sarsih added that community leaders will also work with the corporation’s technical team to address the situation to curtail or prevent power theft.
“This is a huge task for some of us-the leaderships of the various communities. This is like a full time employment for some of us if we must do it effectively. There are about 400 persons in my community who have current, but they do not have meters. We don’t have the technical eye to detect power theft, but we are leaders in the communities and they expect us to know”.
“We say thanks to LEC and we expect you to guide us through the process as we help each other. As you said government is losing, international community losing and they are also stealing from us. As we are all trying to curb power theft, we pray that we get the needed support from LEC which has the technical eye because, I can pass under a tree several times without knowing anything is going on”.
Under the MOU signed between the LEC and the community leaders, the corporation will provide current and the community through its Chairman shall provide LEC with information as to the cause, nature, and effect, of the damages of interferences so that LEC may reasonably commence, maintain or continue the supply of electricity in the community.
It mandates community leadership and certain members of the community to collaborate with LEC Community Engagement Coordination Team in identifying illegal connections and power theft.
It adds that the Community Chairman shall further ensure access rights to LEC for any purpose connected with the supply of electricity in the community.
“No one, including LEC’s representative/agent shall work alone without the knowledge or involvement of the Chairman or his authorized representative, as any damage or interference with meters or transformers within that vicinity may be attributed to members of the community, and the entire community will stop receiving current until otherwise considered”, the MOU states.
It continues: “Community leadership, especially the Chairman shall ensure that no connection is carried on LEC’s poles by technicians in their community without proper identification card and official documentation such as signed work orders, numbered jackets, helmets and vehicle, all with LEC logo/emblem. Community leaders shall be involved with the process of checking of lines, disconnection, reconnection, etc by LEC technicians and will often communicate with LEC Community Engagement Coordinator to share information relating to LEC facilities”.