President Weah Declares Power Theft a Major Crime in Liberia
By Konah Rufus
President George Manneh Weah has declared power theft as major crime that will be liable for prosecution for would-be violators.
Delivering his sixth and final Annual Message for his first six years term Monday, 30 January 2023 at the Capitol, President Weah threatened violators with prosecution, stressing that stealing power is illegal and criminal.
“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,” he said.
“And the Government will not hesitate to prosecute those who are in violation of the law,” President Weah stressed.
Over the years, the Liberian government has been battling against the issue of power theft. Last year, the Weah regime appointed General Services Agency (GSA) Boss Madam Mary Broh to head a special task force mandated to clear Monrovia and its surrounding of illegal power connections.
In late November 2022, the management of LEC through the Government of Liberia, other partners, and community leaders, officially launched the “Anti-Power Theft Campaign” aimed at calming down on the illegal stealing of electricity.
The LEC had said power theft is a major driver of commercial loses at the corporation.
This alarming loss, the LEC said, amounts to 46 million US dollars monthly and poses a serious problem in having the entity provide adequate services to its numerous customers.
Theft of power within communities is also seriously hampering the sustainability of the corporation and its ability to expand current grid networks across the country.
The task force has busted several homes and businesses that were engaged in power theft.
According to President Weah, his government will remain vigilant against power theft.
At the same time, Mr. Weah recounted progress made so far aimed at combating the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s (LEC’s) loss of resources due to power theft.
He said the progress is made through the country’s power theft law that makes stealing power a criminal offence.
Weah appreciated the anti-power theft force for tirelessly working to ensure that power theft is combated, and reduced in the country.
“Electricity is not free,” he said, adding: “we must all be a good citizens and pay for current we consume.”
Additionally, President Weah announced that his administration will work with the Legislature to increase civil servants’ salaries above the minimum wage bill beginning this fiscal year 2023.
Weah stressed that it is totally unacceptable and unlawful that thousands of civil servants will be paid below the minimal wage bill.
Highlighting the issue of gender equality, President Weah urged the 54th Legislature to speedily pass the Gender Equity bill to boost women participation in public elected offices.
The bill, sponsored by the Women’s Legislative Caucus and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, among other things, seeks to compel political parties to include more women in key positions within their respective parties.
Meanwhile, there are currently ten women lawmakers out of the 103-member 54th Legislature of the Liberia.
Out of that number, eight are in the 73-member House of Representatives and two in the Liberian Senate that comprises of 30 members in total.