7 February 2013

Liberia: Clampdown On Power Theft

The Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has proposed the prosecution of dozens of people in what is seen as a clampdown on those linked to a power theft that continues to hinder the operations of the entity.

The crackdown is targeted at several residents of Red-Light, West Point, New Kru Town, Caldwell, Logan Town, Clara Town and Sinkor.

The recommendation came after an exercise was carried out this week by the Loss Prevention Force (LPF) of LEC following reports of illegal power connection across major LEC operation areas in Monrovia and its environs.

According to the report, the illegal power theft which many describe as a "well planned scheme" run by some "unscrupulous residents" costs LEC over US$200,000 every month.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Mack M. Jouridide, Director of the LEC Loss Prevention Force, said LEC was able to clamp down on over 500 houses which have been illegally benefiting from the power supplied by LEC.

"The issue of power theft is very serious to us. It has caused us so many losses at this agency. Currently we have been able to clamp down on several communities including Red-Light, Sinkor, Central Monrovia, where we have retrieved several meters from individuals engaged in this illegal acts within and around Monrovia.

"We have to stop this power theft. We, the authorities at the LEC say we will not relent to clamp down on any individual who would be involved in this criminal act.

It must stop. We will go in every community or residents to weed out such individuals," he vowed.

He noted that as a result of the recent exercise in some of these 'notorious communities,' the LEC has been able to reduce the massive theft on its facilities to a minimum level. He said the exercise would continue to other areas where the illegal act is taking place.

Mr. Jouridine also revealed that the issue of power theft is all over the city.

"Even well placed individuals within the society are involved in the act.

"I don't want to say the low income people because people that I have caught already are not low income people. We got people who make money; those in government, business people engage in this criminal act. They are all involved in power theft," he disclosed.

According to him, LEC does not however have the legal authority to directly prosecute individuals. As a result, the management would forward the issue to the Justice Ministry for prosecution, according to Mr. Jouridine. He also suggested the passage of a law that seeking the establishment of a power theft court.

"I will like the LEC management to lobby with the legislature to pass a law that will establish a power theft court like in other places. In India, Ghana, power theft is a major crime and also a very dangerous undertaking.

"I will hope that the government of Liberia through the legislature would pass a law that would make this a major crime. The elimination of power theft is for all of us, we must all work towards the complete eradication of this illegal act from our country," he cautioned.

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