Harper Has Electricity, But Its Officers Sleep in Darkness

HARPER, Maryland – Maryland is one of the few regions in Liberia, along with Grand Gedeh, Nimba, and Montserrado, where residents have access to the electricity grid.

However, while the streets of Harper are well lit at night, its security officers – from several entities including the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and the Drugs Enforcement Agency – reside in total darkness at their new facility located on Stadium Road.

The 29 officers reside at what was once the base of the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations Mission in Liberia. Before the troops withdrew from Harper on September 2016, UNMIL supplied the facility with electricity.

The area was then turned over to local county authorities, shortly before thieves took advantage of the lax security and started looting the facility, stealing most of the electrical wires placed in underground conduits.

Uprooted conduits that previously contained electrical wires. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Uprooted conduits that previously contained electrical wires. Photo: Zeze Ballah

An officer who spoke on the basis of anonymity said the absence of electricity makes it difficult to fight crime. The officer said, at night, motorcyclists refuse to commute to the area, which makes it difficult for them to get to their posts.

“There are no security lights at the facility, as was during the case of UNMIL Nigerian contingent, to help combat crimes,” the officer said. “The situation is becoming unbearable. There is electricity in Harper but security officers are not connected.”

J. Kruah Dahn, the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s focal person in Maryland, confirmed that some unscrupulous individuals had stolen the wires for their personal use.

However, Dahn said this was not enough reason for much of the facility to be in darkness. He noted that some senior security officers at the facility had already been connected and they could implement a temporary measure to ensure that the area was well lit by running wires to the residences of other officers.

Dahn said the local LEC office would conduct an assessment of the situation shortly, to be followed by immediate action.

J. Kruah Dahn, Liberia Electricity Corporation focal person. Photo: Zeze Ballah

J. Kruah Dahn, Liberia Electricity Corporation focal person. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Maryland benefits from the West African Power Pool, also known as the cross-border electrification project, sponsored by the European Union and the African Development Bank. The program, which operates under ECOWAS, aims for the integration of regional power systems.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah. This story was funded as part of a travel grant provided by Internews.

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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