The NEWS (Monrovia)

Liberia: LEC Loses U.S..$700,000 to Thieves

The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) says the institution is losing over thirty percent (30%) of its monthly income to power thieves across Monrovia.

The LEC said the high wave of stealing being carried out on its installations by unscrupulous individuals and institutions in Monrovia is causing the lost of over US$700,000. 00.

At a press conference in Monrovia Thursday, LEC's Chief Executive Officer, Shahid Mohammad said in order to make the ongoing electrification process sustainable, every citizen and residents must take the responsibility of protecting electrical installations in the country.

Mr. Mohammad said the government has already committed itself to the commissioning of the Mount Coffee Hydro Project by 2015; but feared that if the issue of power theft are not curtailed, the situation might drastically tripled.

He said the situation of power stealing requires the collective efforts of every well-meaning Liberian and other nationals residing in Liberia.

The LEC CEO said more than seven low income communities have already been connected and 14 more low in come area are expected to be connected by June next year.

Mr. Mohammad said the LEC currently has a customer based of about 13,000 households and is also expected to have a customer based of over 25,000 by June next year.

"For this process to be sustainable, we have to be responsible because electricity is costly and it is a privilege because there are many people who don't have it; as for those who have it ought to use it responsibly and if they do not pay and people continue to steal it, it will be difficult for this process to be sustained," Mr. Mohammad said.

For his part, LEC Board Chairman, Francis Cooper, said the LEC facilities that were destroyed during the war are being restored through the help of the government and donor partners.

Mr. Cooper said as a result of the high cost associated with the use of these diesel generators, the cost of electricity is still high.

He noted that due to the high cost of running the generators, LEC has not been able to entirely restore all of its facilities. However, he said efforts are being made to restore electricity to as many communities as possible through the assistance of the government and its partners.

"We, as Liberians, have to show interest in our own system, and the least they can do is to stop stealing electricity or illegally connecting people..." Mr. Cooper said.

He cautioned citizens to report cases of those who are bent on illegal connections in their communities, adding, "If we don't protect our assets, nobody is going to do it for us."

Also, LEC Deputy CEO for Planning, Joseph Mayah, said the institution is currently upgrading its four (4) substations in Monrovia and its surroundings.

Mr. Mayah said the upgrading processes will provide increase in the power distribution networks at these substations for effective and efficient service delivery to customers and communities.

He said the project, valued at US$21 million is being supported by the Governments of Norway and United States of America through USAID; Writes, Sam Zota, Jr.

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