‘Incorporate Anti-power Theft Taskforce, or Risk Losing the Fight’ – ‘General Broh’ Warns LEC Management – Latest Liberian News
PAYNESVILLE- The Co-Chair of the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s Anti-Power Theft Taskforce, Mary T. Broh has called for the LEC to incorporate members of the anti-power theft taskforce, or risk losing the battle against the menace.
She said if the corporation is to reduce power theft and increase revenue for the electricity sector of the country, the members of the Anti-Taskforce should be employed permanently by the LEC management.
Due to years of involvement in power theft, Madam Broh said many Liberians have been used to getting current criminally and to dissuade them from such act, the anti-power theft taskforce should constantly monitor their activities.
Speaking to reporters Friday, when her team arrested several people for allegedly stealing current, the LEC taskforce boss wondered why Liberians usually want to use the current free of charge while citizens from other countries are paying bills and contributing to the growth and development of their countries.
“This exercise has to be a continuous process if not, power theft will not end now. LEC have to incorporate these guys I have trained to continue the process with or without me’’ she warned.
Taskforce unveils big hands in power theft
The electricity sector was completely damage during Liberia’s devastating 14-year long civil war. After the war and under the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral partners, after spending millions in grant and loan, had anticipated that the sector, like in other countries, would be a great source of revenue to boost the country’s struggling economy. The United States alone, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), provided US$257 million to help increase access to more reliable and affordable electricity; and improve the planning and execution of routine, periodic, and emergency road maintenance. Unfortunately, their expectation has not been met. The country’s electricity sector for years now, has been plagued with power theft, making the LEC to lose about US$48 million, about 50 percent of its annual income.
“As we speak, the LEC is losing nearly 50% of its production, or electricity, amounting to over 48 million US dollars annually to power theft,” the corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Monie Captan, said at the launch of the anti-power theft taskforce in November. “LEC will waste no time in wielding out individuals that will be caught undermining its efforts and gains.”
In line with the MCC Compact signed by Liberia and the United States, a private Irish-based firm ESB International was hire under a management services contract to manage LEC and turn it into a more operationally and financially efficient and effective corporation.
Until the exit of ESBI, the LEC was rocked with power-theft. The operation of ESBI, despite many in-roads, was overshadowed by power theft. And despite the enactment of the anti-power theft law, the LEC lost about 60 percent of its annual revenue under the ESBI.
In a bid to address the situation, the Government, under the new management headed by Monie Captan on November 9, 2022 launched the LEC Anti-Power Theft Taskforce. Owing to her track record, Madam Broh, Managing Director of the General Service Agency (GSA) was called up to serve as the Co-chair and Field Marshall of the taskforce.
In keeping with her mandate, Madam Broh has been leading the team in various communities, disconnecting and levying fines on individuals and businesses that are illegally connected or “by passing” meters issued them.
Less than five months since its establishment, the taskforce, with the resilient effort of Broh and her team, has disconnected many homes and businesses, among them the homes of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Bhofal Chambers, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee Maxwell Kemayah and the Chairman of the opposition Unity Party, the Reverend Luther Tarpeh.
While most of these VIPs have denied being involved with power theft and “pressure the taskforce” to exonerate them through public statements, judging from the definition of power theft by the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission (LERC) many believe that these officials’ hands were caught in the cookies’ jar. The LERC defines power-theft as the “illegal connection, tampering with or bypassing the supply equipment, a service provider’s equipment or any other unlawful use of electricity.”
Electric power theft is dangerous and causes the utility to lose revenue thereby undermining the ability to provide quality service and burdens paying customers with higher costs.
Madam Broh, now in her 70s, has been actively leading her team to curb the menace, but as K-news has learned, political interference and some LEC insides’ involvement in the criminal act is impeding her work.
In order to ‘wield out individuals that will be caught undermining its efforts and gains” as promised by the Mr. Captan, many are calling on the LEC to listen to Madam Broh’s advice and incorporate the anti-power theft them permanently.
By William Howard