13 February 2017

Liberia: Power Theft Result of Poor Response to Customers

A defective transformer by Island Clinic in Tweh Farm which residents say they have been unable to get the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to replace, despite several visits to its Bushrod Island office, may encourage power theft, according to a spokesman of the community.

Jonathan Armah Baxter told the Daily Observer in an interview yesterday that the transformer serving the community "blew up two weeks before the 2016 Christmas season."

"I was at work when I got a call that the transformer had blown up with a loud noise and thereafter I have been making efforts, visiting the LEC office on Bushrod Island without success," Baxter said.

He said he was frustrated by his discovery that there is no one at the LEC Bushrod Island office responsible for managing emergencies reported by consumers, and noted that he believes privatization of the LEC would provide effective services to consumers.

"At the LEC Bushrod Island office, the security at the gate will not let you to enter the compound and they will tell you call the person you came to see," Baxter said, "and when you are lucky to get to any employee, he can only give you a number to call; and sadly, that number may not be answered after one or two calls."

Baxter said he is aware of the LEC management's campaign against power theft but noted that poor emergency response by the LEC is a sure way to encourage power theft, "since the LEC does not seem to be interested in solving problems facing customers."

A frustrated Baxter said he sent a text message to Foday S. Sackor, LEC's new managing director, about how unresponsive the LEC has been to his efforts to find a solution for the community.

An LEC source confirmed that a transformer in the community in question blew up at the time, adding that although a team of technicians visited the community, the transformer is yet to be replaced.

The new LEC management has increased its campaign against power theft in the various communities in Monrovia and its environs, informing residents that power theft causes huge losses to the country.

But many customers have complained that for the LEC to successfully fight power theft, the management must respond to problems raised by its customers as quickly as possible.

"They cannot wait more than one month to respond to an emergency," said another Twe Farm resident, "because it will give rise to power theft."

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