News Column

LEC Can't Afford Seven Million - Says Management

June 17, 2014

Winston W. Parley

Officials say the Liberia Electricity Corporation or LEC doesn't have the resources to buy "a first" quartz of fuel oil that costs $7m, though the corporation re-emphasizes commitment to increase power connection to about 30 to 40 thousand additional customers by December 2014.

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was briefed on Monday during interaction with officials of the LEC and its board when she visited three power projects sites on Bushrod Island.

The Liberian Government is funding an 18 megawatts power project; the World Bank - 10 megawatts, while the Japanese Government is also funding a power plant project, all at the LEC facility in the Freeport area.

However, President Sirleaf says between 12 and 15 months, there will be much power to give to "our people" and that it will reduce the cost of electricity in the country. The President said she was very pleased with the progress made at the sites.

"That's why we've been working for sometimes- these things take longer than we want. You got to negotiate, you got to get companies, you got to do bidding," she told reporters.

On the question of $7m raised by the LEC, President Sirleaf said what she likes to see is for a public corporation to "act as a corporation," demanding a business plan that will show how much LEC will generate and how much it will cost.

She says if as a result of the corporation's growth it cannot generate enough revenues to cover its cost, then the government can intervene with a subsidy. "... What we don't want is for public corporation to just start and cry, and say oh! We need $7m, we need $4, we need $5m," she said.

President Sirleaf was responding when Deputy LEC Chief Executive Officer for Planning, Joseph Mayah, appealed for government's assistance because on the issue of fuel oil, the LEC doesn't have the resources to buy first quartz of fuel that cost $7m. He had informed the President however that the contract signed with Japan sets December 12, 2014 as the commissioning date and handing over to LEC.

"So if that is done, if everything is ok, we will have power from this plant for Christmas," he assured. To President Sirleaf's query if there was issues that could throw government off time, Mr. Mayah said the issue is fuel delivery to the plant, saying everything was within the planning.

He said the LEC had been told that the first consignment of heavy fuel will be here in June 2014, and that an approval from Liberia'sEnvironmental Protection Agency or EPA is needed to give LEC a temporary permit.

He says it would enable the corporation to truck fuel to its facility at the project sites while the tents are being completed. "That is the critical issue that we are to resolve with the EPA. The tents are fully funded by the World Bank," he noted.

Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Patrick Sandolo, however said all of the projects are already fully funded, but added that he did not have all of the details on hand as regards cost. Liberia's Deputy Justice Minister and Board Chairman of the LEC, Benedict Sannoh, disclosed that the projects are moving on schedules.

"... By the time these plants are completed along with the sub-stations, and we will be able to, along with the ELTEL connections, we will be able to increase our activities to about 30 to 40 thousand additional customers and we will also be able to reduce the cost to about 30 to 40 percent," said Minister Sannoh.

He said significant progress was being made, and assured the President and the public that they are moving ahead and trying very hard to meet the December 15 deadline. The President, on a guided tour, visited the three projects and spoke with engineers yesterday.

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Source: AllAfrica

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