Liberia: Gov’t, EU Break Ground For 33kv Power Station to Light 38,000 Homes
Old Road, Sinkor – A new power transmission and distribution station is expected to reduce the transmission gaps and will power 38,000 new homes in Sinkor, Congo Town and Paynesville City.
The project, which cost US$42 million, is funded by the European Union and will be executed by MBH Power Limited – an Indian firm with over two decades of expertise in the power sector.
Speaking at the groundbreaking progarm on Friday June 21, EU’s Charge d’Affaires Juan Antnio Frutos said the European Union “understand the urgency and need for Liberians to get connected to the grid as soon as possible.”
“Thosusands of people in Monrovia waiting to get electricty can steadily see their communities being legally connected o the electricity grid one step at a time,” Frutos said.
The new station is part of the Light Up Monrovia – the Monrovia Consolidation of electricity transmission and distribution project funded by the EU.
It will be a massive boost for Liberia’s energy sector as it will close the gap between the main transmission line connecting Bushorld Island and Paynesville stations.
The Old Road station, which will be located next to the James Spings Airport, will give flexibility of the transmission of power, increase capacity of the two other stations and increase the capacity of power destribution, the Liberia Electricity Corporation says.
The project includes a double circuit 66KV high tension line with 40 MVA and the replacement of some damaged wooden poles.
In addition to 38,000 homes in Sinkor, Old Road, Peace Island and parts of Payneville city that will be lighted, 2,100 street lights will also be installed.
LEC technicians will also be trained in India to obtain high quality skills to be able to maintain the power station at the end of the construction process.
The project will also involve the training of engineering students of the University of Liberia and Stella Maris Polythenic . About 40 students – gender balance of male and female – will work as interns and will be “well compensated” as they learn from with the foriegn experts for the next six months.
“With the extension of the electricity grid and the need for more connections, there will be a need for more electricians in the country,” the EU Charge d’Affaires stated.
“In order to cover the future gaps of electricians, the EU in its TVET programme foresees the education and traning of electricians in certain TVET schools in the cuntry.”
Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister Gesler E. Murray stressed that electricty is a “robust and intergral” to unlocking Liberia’s economic potential.
“No investor should consider the current high tarrif [US$25/KWH] as a benchmark to eneter in the Liberia’ electricity market. We’ll like to assure Liberians that these high and burdensome tariff rate will be significantly driven down,” Minister Murray said at the groundbreaking event.
But Minister Murray also pointed out that power theft is an impediment to the growth of the sector becuase it costs the LEC millions of dollars in losses.
He then urged the communities to protect LEC’s assests by reporting power theft, while disclosing that the government is working in a new elecricity law that will make power theft a second degree felony.
“Power theft has been identified as the major conduit responsible for the high percentage of commercial losses at the LEC – which now stands at about 50%,” the Mines and Energy Minister said, adding that cut in losses will ensure reduction in the price of electricity.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s Deputy Minister for Finance and Development Planning for Economic Management, Augustus J. Flomo thanked the EU for the support, describing them as the country’s “trusted partner in supporting us achive our agenda.”
He also pointed out the significance of “strong” electricty to the country’s economic growth.
“And so the private sector support in the area of providing them sustainable electricity is very key and critical to what we do as a government,” he said.
“And I believe that for 38,000 households – and businesses included – that are going to be serviced by the construction of this center, this is going to contribute to our economic expansion program.”
Minister Flomo said the decison to integrate human resouce capacity into the project by training students will help the country manage its own system in the future.
He called on the contractor to “do as much as they can to support timely delivery” of the project.
“We will like to encourage you the engineering company to work within the timeline that you have so that our peole can have access to the electricity because this is long awaited,” he said.
For his part, Parvez Kumar Handa, Country Manager of MBH power Limited – the firm hired to construct the station, assured the people of Liberia and the EU that “the investmnet will yield the best result” and that the project will be implemented with “high standard”.