Liberia: Luxurious Hotels More Into Power Theft

The President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate Mr. Albert T. Chie says most of the power theft in Liberia is not just done by ordinary people, but luxurious hotels in town are mainly into power theft.Also speaking Thursday, 11 July, Grand Kru County Sen. Dr. Peter Coleman said up to 70% of the power given is stolen.

He complains that it reduces the capacity of the Liberia Electricity Corporation to provide more services to others.He notes that the (Power Theft) Bill is not only targeting those that do the connections, but those that are exploiting the economy for their own benefits.

He expresses fears that given the power theft situation in Monrovia, power theft will be more when LEC extends its operation in the various parts of the country.

"Two years ago, we passed the electricity law where we stated that LEC lacked the capacity to deal with disturbing transmission and even collecting its own bills," he says.

Also speaking, Maryland County Sen. J. Gbleh-bo Brown says the report is incomplete because the committee on Judiciary should be the lead committee on the report.

He suggests that the Bill should have court implication in it, reminding his colleagues that there is no way one can be caught and charged for stealing current without being carried to court.

Additionally Sen. Brown observes that the report does not provide how one can be determined as someone who steals power.

He argues that "You can't just see someone on a pole and say the person is stealing current." "What determines that? And that person needs to go to court to be charged," he continues.

Meanwhile, Sinoe County Sen. J. Milton Teahjay says the Bill should not cover power alone, suggesting the need to include water theft.

Mr. Teahjay says there is a need to criminalize the theft of public services, including water, current, and telecommunications, among others.Teahjay expresses concern that the Bill is centered around Monrovia alone, noting that it should cover the whole country.

According to him, government needs to put electricity in all parts of the country, saying Liberians are not only the people in Monrovia.

Sinoe County Sen. Augustine Chea recommends that the legality of the bill be given serious consideration, saying that there are serious legal [flaws] in the Bill.

Sen. Chea indicates that nowhere in the law has to do with criminality, further saying there is no penalty in terms of guilt.

Notwithstanding, Bong County Sen. Henry Yallah raises concern that it takes LEC too long to respond to people if they have problem with their power line.

To add to the problem, he says when the LEC workers get to the person who has problem with supply line, money is allegedly requested before connecting the person.

On the basis of this concern, Sen. Yallah believes that LEC is helping the people to steal the current.

He suggests that while people are being jailed for stealing current, LEC too needs to pay fine for facilitating the crime. Following deliberations by the Senators, the Bill was sent back to the committee to consider the inputs made by the various senators.

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