LEC Disconnects Delinquent Ganta Customers as Liberia Owes Ivory Coast US$1.8 million

GOMPA, Nimba – The Liberia Electricity Corporation and the management of Jungle Energy Power, Inc. are disconnecting numerous customers who have failed to pay their current bills or arrange payment plans with the Jungle Energy office.

The process has been going on for a week and will continue until there are positive responses from the customers, according to officials involved.

“Before we commenced this disconnection exercise, we went on the radio stations some two, three weeks back and also put announcements on the air that have been running for more than one week now,” said Bob Marshall Dolo, the public relations officer for Jungle Energy. “So, we are doing this disconnection based upon people who have actually refused to pay their bills.”

According to Dolo, there are some customers who have willfully refused to settle their bills, while others have said they lack the money to settle those debts.

“What we are saying to them is that, come to JEP office so that you can tell us how you can pay this money over time,” he said. “If you say you don’t have money, we are not responsible for it. All we can do is to negotiate a suitable payment plan that we can spread over 12 months and every month you can be able to work in line with that plan.”

Electricity is supplied to Ganta through the West Africa Power Pool project. The unpaid bills are a result of an almost two-year halt in the collection of electricity bills after the departure of the Liberia Electricity Corporation’s previous partner, the Ghanaian company Energy Ventures.

At that time, the frequent collection of bill payments were done for more than three months before coming to a stop. The Liberian government said it needed a trusted company to take charge of the project, so as to curtail the constant power outages. During the period when there was no local partner, no payments were collected for bills.

Now that the project is entrusted to Jungle Energy, those payments are now being collected from the customers – an exercise led by LEC in collaboration with Jungle Energy.

Dolo said customers need to pay those bills to allow Liberia to pay Cote d’Ivoire for the power.

“This is a cross-border power, and Ivory Coast is considering us a brotherly country and is extending their support to us through the West Africa Power Pool Project,” he said. “So, the best way we can continue to have this current and give good face to Cote d’Ivoire is to collect this money. We owe Ivory Coast about US$1.8 million and we need to pay this money.”

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Some customers that were disconnected were seen making payments at the United Bank for Africa. Others have complained that they cannot afford to settle those bills over 12 months due to the country’s current economic situation. Jungle Energy has said those customers would remain disconnected.

The West Africa Power Pool Project was initiated in 2013, with residents in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland now benefiting from electricity. Unlike in Montserrado, where the vast majority of electricity customers buy electricity credits before being able to receive power, residents in Gompa operate on a post-paid basis.

Featured photo by Arrington Ballah

Arrington Ballah

A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance.

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