23 August 2017

Liberia: LEC Increases Power Supply, Campaigns Against Power Theft

The management of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has announced the beginning of a campaign to engage in robust exercises that will ensure the provision of affordable electricity to the Liberian public and the prevention of power theft.

According to a press release, the current campaign is pursuant to the LEC's mandate to provide affordable electricity to the Liberian public and to safeguard its use, so as to, among other things, maintain such affordability.

"The corporation in conjunction with the relevant Liberian authorities is engaged in a robust exercise to ensure the provision of these services and the prevention of the theft of the services," the release said. In this regard, the LEC said a team has been established to conduct regular inspections; and in the event of suspicion, to allow and permit the relevant authorities of the government to take the necessary action(s) in keeping with statutory responsibility.

The release said, "In this regard, the Liberia National Police, in January 2017 arrested several customers and alleged customers of the LEC, on suspicion of theft of electricity, including the Mamba Point Hotel and its General Manager, Mr. Chawki Bsaibes."

After a thorough investigation, the Liberia National Police issued its report in which it concluded that the Mamba Point Hotel was registered with the LEC as a customer, paying for power usage, but was supplying the electricity services to its subsidiary under the sole name of "Mamba Point Hotel," instead of in the name of the subsidiary, Ocean View Residence.

The LEC said it recognizes the consumption capacity of electricity services of Mamba Point Hotel and its subsidiary, together with all of its large power consumption customers, who are paying and have the capacity to make huge payments to the LEC, both of its operations and to provide affordable electricity to the consuming public.

In view of the LNP findings, the LEC said it regrets any inconvenience caused to the Mamba Point Hotel and its General Manager, growing out of the incident of the arrest and handcuff of Mr. Chawki Bsaibes in January 2017, and therefore encourages the Mamba Point Hotel, Mr. Bsaibes and all other large consuming and other potential consuming customers to continue to be engaged with the LEC for the appropriate registration and utilization of its services in order to maintain cordiality between the LEC and the consuming public.

In a related development, the LEC has announced that new customers will no longer be required to pay the US$55 service connection fee as a perquisite for connection. The service connection fee would now be deducted after connection over a period and during the purchase of recharge tokens.

The decision was reached after a careful review of the customers' connection procedures, and it will afford all regardless of status to access LEC services at an accelerated pace. The LEC said it is committed to increasing access to reliable and affordable electricity.

Managing Director Ernest R. Hughes said the overhaul of the recruitment procedures is a clear manifestation of government's commitment to providing affordable electricity and giving more people access to the national electricity grid. "In order to increase access to electricity, we are taking this major step by canceling the down payment of service connection fees, which was a major bottleneck in our recruitment drive. The overarching objective of this policy is to reduce customers' wait time for connection and to increase the number of customers," said Mr. Hughes.

Meanwhile, the LEC has reiterated that inventories (wires, meters, light poles, streetlights, etc) are absolutely not for sale and anyone encountering any individual selling these inventories is encouraged to report to the management of the corporation, or the Liberia National Police.

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