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Liberia: Lawmakers Resolve to Use Personal Mini Generators Amid Continuous Blackout at Legislature

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Capitol Hill, Monrovia – Power outage at the Capitol Building has become a continuous problem for lawmakers in performing their legislative functions at the Capitol.

The main building which hosts at least 55 members of the Senate and House of Representatives has been in darkness for about a month due to ongoing work by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to connect both wings of the Senate and House of Reps. 

The process, according to House Speaker Bhofal Chambers, is being done in acquiescence with the leadership of both Houses.

However, the connection has been ‘going on forever’ and this has resulted to some lawmakers bringing in their personal generators to at least restore light in their offices to perform their legislative duties.

One of the lawmakers affected by the prolong power outage is Rep. Richard Koon (Montserrado Dist. #11). 

Rep. Koon and his staff were on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 seen carrying a mini-generator to light up his office which is located on the third floor of the Capitol Building.

Speaking to legislative reporters, he explained that his office has been without electricity for about a month now; something that is causing him serious embarrassment and impeding his work.

According to him, lack of electricity hinders their functions to write or proffer communications and draft laws in the interest of the Liberian people and host or entertain constituents or guests.

Speaking to reporters earlier, he vented; “I have to bring a generator and rewire my office to work. The continuous darkness of the Capitol Building without a backup generator to enable most lawmakers to work is a disfavor to us.

One of the dark hallways of the Capitol Buildings (House of Representatives’ Wing) hosting Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and other lawmakers during working hours

He revealed that he shears the electricity with his next-door colleague, Rep. P. Mike Jurry from Maryland County.

Meanwhile, offices of lawmakers holding key positions and heading major committees have also been without light for about a month now.

Some include Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Prince Moye (Bong, Dist. #2) Rep. Thomas Fallah (Montserrado District #5), Chairman of the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, Rep. Munah Pelham Youngblood, (Montserrado Dict. #9), Chairperson, Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Mariamu Fofana (Lofa Co. Dist. #4), who chairs the House Committee on Rules, Order and Administration.

Other lawmakers including Reps. Lawrence Morris and Hanson Kiazolu of Montserrado County’s Districts #s 1 and 17, respectively, also expressed dismay concerning the darkness in the main Capitol Building.

Rep, Lawrence, in an interview with reporters recently stated that sometimes, they are compelled to visit the World Trade Center on Gurley Street to do personal work. 

“This power outage shouldn’t have lasted more than 72 hours. It should have been coordinated well. Now, we are even in doubt if we will get current next. I am just feeling bad and most of the time we sit idly after we use the current in the charged laptop. Sometimes we go to the internet café to continue our works. It is outrageous,” he vented.

Although, sessions of both Houses of the Senate and Representatives are currently being held within the two annexes  that were constructed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), many are concerned that the blackout, if not addressed will affect the functions of key committees responsible for reviewing the 2019/2020 fiscal budget and by extension delay the process of its approval.

The budget has already been submitted by President George Weah to the Legislature and is currently undergoing scrutiny by the House of Representatives’ joint committees on Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning, Public Accounts and Expenditure to report in the first week of August, 2019.

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