President Weah threatens violators of power theft law

MONROVIA – President George Manneh Weah has threatened violators of the power theft law with prosecution, stressing that stealing power is illegal and criminal.

Speaking Wednesday, 28 April, at the closing program of the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) and the commissioning of the new Raw Water Pipeline in White Plains, Mount Coffee, outside Monrovia, President Weah lamented commercial losses the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) is enduring due to power theft.

However, he also recounted progress made so far aimed at combating the LEC’s loss of resources due to power theft through the country’s power theft law that makes stealing power a criminal offence.

“We are working to enforce this law, and I must use this opportunity to inform all Liberians and communities that stealing power is illegal and criminal and the Government will not hesitate to prosecute those who are in violation of the law,” President Weah stressed.

He directed that the Management of LEC and the Ministry of Justice cooperate in enforcing the power theft law, indicating, “It is my understanding that the LEC has organized community programs to prevent power theft.”

He called on all Liberians to play their parts to stop the leakage of revenue to the LEC, pledging that government is committed to doing its part.

Howbeit, President Weah named the lack of transformers and meters as two of several challenges hampering distribution of power, stating that government, through the LEC, is now providing transformers to various communities and meters to many homes.

He urged the Management of LEC to move very fast on installing the new meters, indicating that the lack of meters is part of the power theft story in the country.

Meanwhile, President Weah has hailed the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC’s) impact on Liberia, indicating thathis administration and the people of Liberia are satisfied with the impact of the MCC.

The Compact, implemented by the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia, has ended its work after jumpstarting the country’s electricity and road sectors.

President Weah acknowledged that Liberia was fortunate to have been among a very few countries that was eligible for a Millennium Challenge Compact.

The Liberian president said his country’s selection puts it in what he terms a “privileged group of beneficiary countries that have performed with distinction,” in terms of democratic rights and the control of corruption as reflected in the MCC country scorecard.

Speaking Wednesday, 28 April at program marking the closing of the MCC and the commissioning of the new Raw Water Pipeline in White Plains, Mount Coffee, President Weah highlighted significant impact the Compact has had on the Liberian economy such as major growth in the energy sector with increased access from 4% to 12 percent, with over 82,000 customers being connected to the national grid.

“As direct impact of the Compact, which provided funding to the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission  (LERC), mainly the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Plant, the country’s  generation capacity has more than doubled, while LEC staff are better trained to meet the demands of a modern electrical network and a demanding customer base,” President Weah recalled.

As a direct result of the Compact, President Weah indicated that the LERC is fully functioning, promising that it will have full budgetary support provided by the Government of Liberia in the next fiscal year.

“The establishment of this Commission marks a turning point in our energy sector as it creates an enabling environment for private sector participation,” Dr. Weah noted, adding, “We see the private sector as an engine for growth and as a mean to meet the future energy demands of our economy.”

He said the support of the Compact to the electricity sector, mainly the LEC, has been critical, saying, “As a country we have struggled since the end of the civil conflict to put the LEC back on its feet and to make the LEC commercially successful. The Compact support to the Management Services Contract with the Irish company ESBI aims to making LEC more viable. Government will continue to work with ESBI for the duration of its contract to ensure that this happens.”

President Weah indicated that the Compact also facilitated a new approach to road maintenance by enabling evidence-based maintenance planning.

“We now have a Road Asset Management System that will be regularly updated with data on our roads, which will allow us to develop annual road maintenance plans. Our road maintenance program will be funded by the National Road Fund, which will ensure sustainable financing of our road projects,” said the Chief Executive.

He added: “Today, we will commission the raw water pipeline, an $18.5 Million component of the Compact that will deliver raw water from Mount Coffee to the water treatment plant at White Plains. This raw water I understand will be free of salt intrusion that takes place in the St. Paul River basin, thus improving the quality of water that will be supplied by the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation to Monrovia and its environs.”

President Weah also said the Millennium Challenge Compact grant of $257 Million marked a significant high point in US-Liberia relations, stressing that it represents the largest non-emergency assistance ever given to Liberia by the United States.

According to the Liberian leader, the Millennium Challenge Corporation enjoys broad-based bi-partisan support within the US Congress, stressing that it makes the compact a true reflection of the support of the American people to the people of Liberia.

While assuring the people of America that his government would prioritize the due care required of the investments made under the Compact, President Weah noted, “This significant support brings along with it an urgent responsibility to build upon the gifts of the American people by ensuring that the projects undertaken are protected, used for their intended purposes, and managed in a sustainable manner.”

President Weah declared that Liberia would not remain complacent with only one Compact, but will make it its mission to strive for a second Compact, as other countries have done before.

The Liberian chief executive disclosed that he has directed the MCC Compact Eligibility Committee to work closely with the US Government and MCC to enable us to qualify for another Compact in the future.

As Liberia moves toward a new Compact, he said there is a need for the current Compact to come to a successful close by addressing all outstanding challenges. 

President Weah used the occasion to recognize the efforts of the government’s teams in successfully implementing the Compact, under the able leadership of the MCC Resident Country Director and the Chief Executive Officer of the Liberia Millennium Challenge Account.

He extended profound appreciation to the people of the United States for what he calls “gracious and transformative gift, which he said is in full alignment with Liberia’s national development program.”

He pledged that government will continue to work diligently until every Liberian is lifted out of the cycle of poverty which he noted is the hallmark of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) in keeping with the focus of the Compact.

He then thanked Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the 53rd Legislature for initiating and rectifying the Compact.

The Liberian leader also recognized the efforts of former US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield and former Ambassador of the United States of America, Madam Christine Elder.

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