Home Editorial ‘Power Thieves’ Must Face The Law

‘Power Thieves’ Must Face The Law

by News Manager

In his latest State of the Nation Address (SONA), delivered on 30, January 2023, before the 54th National Legislature, President George Manneh Weah, startlingly told the Nation that stealing of electricity, commonly known as “power theft,” has caused the Liberian Nation to lost more than US$40 million over the years.

President Weah stressed that the increasing rate in power theft which includes illegal connections, tempering with meters, transmission and distribution lines as well as the assets of state-owned Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), such as light poles, wires, and transformers, among others, in several local communities is threatening the reliability and supply of electricity in the country.

While stressing that his administration will not accept any attempt to undermine such electricity supply or expansion efforts, President Weah reminded his fellow compatriots that an anti-power theft law has been passed by the National Legislature.

He indicated that power theft is now a crime or a second-degree felony in the Republic of Liberia.

The Act, which also characterizes Power Theft as a “National Security Threat” came into effect on October 4, 2019.

Per the Act, a system has been established for prohibition and penalties aimed at dealing with electricity theft for which the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government said, its intervention and protection are appropriate.

Nevertheless, President Weah added in his recent SONA that the ability of LEC to engage in Capital Investment is also being “frustrated” and as such, the Corporation is “constrained to rely on support of international donor partners for needed Capital Investment,” something which, according to the President, “is not sustainable.”

As if the above-mentioned accounts/ narrations were not enough, President Weah asserted that his Government has allocated significant budgetary support to realize the CLSG project, despite so many competing social demands and a limited fiscal space.

“We made this sacrifice because, we strongly believe that our people deserve to have access to electricity. “Electricity is not free” and “We must all be good citizens to pay for the electricity we consume,” the Liberian leader emphasized.

Indeed, we, at The INDEPENDENT newspaper, applaud President George Manneh Weah for his detailed narration as it relates to the severe impacts that the increasing acts of power theft are not only causing the progress, viability and sustainability of LEC, but also efforts being made by the current Liberian administration towards the expansion of electricity services to other parts of the country.

But, in as much as we highly appreciate the efforts of the Weah led Government to curtail or decimate the unbridled acts of electricity or power theft in various local communities, we think the Government needs to be more forceful by naming and shaming anyone, entity and groups suspected to be connected to acts of power theft in the country without any fear or favor.

This means, anyone or group, whether in the public or private sector of Liberia, not excluding any public ministries and agencies, thought to be involved in any acts that seem to threaten Liberia’s electricity provision services and/ or expansion program by either withholding, or deliberately refusing to pay for electricity services rendered should be exposed, thoroughly and properly investigated, and if found culpable, penalized, as required by the laws of the country.

Mr. President, although we are not lawyers, neither we pretending to be legal scholars, but by common sense, we think that if a law is made, and its enforcement is grossly weak, or implemented selectively in any country, Liberia being of no exception, the essence of such law may leave much to be desired.

This is why, we are humbling calling on you, as Head of the Liberian State, to leave no stone unturned in ensuring, through the relevant entities of government, including the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), vigorous enforcement of the Act that characterizes Power Theft in the Republic of Liberia as a National Security Threat by holding accountable all those who may be involved in such acts of criminality including economic sabotage, just to name a few.

Moreover, in the previous Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) Report, released by the United States government, which highlighted its provision of over US$200m provision to the Liberia Electricity Corporation and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) for the rehabilitation and smooth operation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, among others, there were chains of key recommendations advanced to the Liberian Government, that we think, need to be prudently looked at and effectively acted upon by the GOL.

We strongly believe that such move, on the part of your government, which is now seeking reelection for another six-year constitutional lifespan in October 2023, will be in the supreme interest of Liberia and its people.

In our candid view, such move, on the part of the Government, would strengthen its raging fight against electricity or power theft across the country.

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