Power Theft Turns ‘Cancerous’

Since the inception of the distribution of current by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) several persons have considerably lost their lives owing to power theft and other irregularities – a situation which has become ‘cancerous’ in the Liberian society.

During a recent investigation conducted by The Monrovia Times, many subscribers and other community dwellers in Monrovia and its environs attributed this catastrophe to the inability of the government’s power distributing company (LEC) to provide adequate and faster services to its numerous customers thereby resulting into subscribers engaging the services of fake electricians who can be on time to solve their problems of which the company’s public relation arm vehemently refuted.

Making a contributing comment to this, a subscriber and a resident of Johnsonville, Montserrado County, Mr. James Anderson told Monrovia Times in an exclusive interview, that the management of LEC is not doing justice to its customers who he said, are ill-informed about the issue of electricity and also by not providing constant awareness and services to many households who are also desperately in need of electricity.

In an instant development information gathered by this media outlet recently, indicates that three persons have reportedly died while several homes burnt following power theft on Front Street in Monrovia.

The incident occurred last Thursday when an unidentified man believed to be involved in regular power theft, was connecting wires on a light pole at night.

One of the victims has been identified as a professional tailor, who on the night of the incident, returned home allegedly under influence of alcohol and was asleep in his zinc shack when fire gutted the premises, killing him and a child.

The report also suggests that two other victims of the fire lived in structures reportedly used by some occupants for prostitution and sale of drugs.

An eyewitness, Otis Lawson, who claimed to be a resident of Front Street, noted that there is increased power theft in the community usually carried out by unscrupulous individuals, not in the employ of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).

Lawson recalls that a similar power theft happened near the United Methodist University (UMU) where a middle-aged person was electrocuted while illegally connecting current to his house.

According to him, the situation is not only alarming but also destroying lives of people, who chose to bye-pass the legitimate process in obtaining service rather elect to criminally tap into LEC’s facilities, which can prove fatal in some instances.

He suggests that government should embark on a vigorous exercise that would lead to arresting and prosecuting individuals involved in power theft, which undermines the income generation base of the LEC.

The Management of the LEC has often arrested several persons for power theft and forwarded them to court, subsequently for prosecution, but the practice remains unabated.

Another incident which rendered a six-bedroom house burnt down to ashes was in Johnsonville. In an interview with the LEC personnel who went on the scene of the incident, Mr. Abraham Fofana told The Monrovia Times that the result of the fire was due to power theft.

When contacted the owner of the house, Mr. John Tamba said the allegation levied against him by LEC personnel was not true and threatened to sue the entity for the destruction of his house.

However the company is constantly warning its customers about power theft which many surmised is attributed to the inability of the company to supply power to every structure coupled with the acquiescence of some double-minded insiders to cut corner in connivance with some outside ‘shady operatives’, some disturbed customers alleged.

Careful observation conducted by this reporter also reveals that many residents of Monrovia are opting to be connected but LEC has repeatedly said they don’t have the full capacity to connect every house for reason best known to the company.

Many deduced that the slow pace or shortfall for the company to provide current to residents who are desperately in need is the result of many engaging the services of unscrupulous and fake LEC workers who are always in time to meet their need by connecting them dubiously.