Thursday, 15 June 2017

LEC Woes ⚡

by Haresh Karamchandani

The Liberia ElectricityCorporation is the only entity that supplies electricity to Liberia. No competition.

In the good old days before the war started, they had a fully functional Hydro-Electric Power station at Mount Coffee which not only supplied power to Liberia but also to the neighboring countries. The grid was well planned and laid out. Cables ran throughout the length and breadth of Liberia. I don’t remember owning a generator or hearing the hum of generator during those good old days. I also remember visiting the LEC stations in Bushrod Island, where they had huge turbine type generation plants, powered by diesel. These were used as a stand by just in case the hydro needed maintenance or had any breakdown, which was very rare.

The war came and brought along widespread looting, rampaging of the infrastructure. All the cables and towers were stolen and sold as scrap which was shipped out by the ship load to metal scrap hungry countries. The hydro power station was bombed, burnt, looted. Completely destroyed.

As the war ended and peace times began, things normalized, and generators became the norm. Every business, household, had to install a generator in order to have electricity. Some smart business people installed huge generators around town and ‘supplied” current at exorbitant prices.

Recently, the hydro has been rehabilited at a cost of several hundred million dollars. One can see new infrastructure, cables, poles all over the country, but alas the LEC woes continue.

I wish to narrate what we have gone through recently.

We had a single phase meter installed by LEC to supply current to our residence on Randall street.

The breaker kept tripping, and also on 2 separate occasions the meter burnt out. We would write a letter to LEC Commercial Department and follow up on a daily basis and within about a month they would come with a replacement meter.

After the meter got burnt out for the third time in less than a year, the LEC advised that we should apply for a 3-phase meter as possibly the single phase meter is unable to handle the load from our airconditioners. We promptly applied and started following up on a day to day basis.

Initially, we were told that they do not have new 3 phase meters in stock and have ordered them and are waiting for delivery. After waiting for a month, we finally were able to strike a deal with an LEC official who said they could help. The meter came the same day and was installed. But it was not as easy as that.

Even though we had a brand new 3 phase meter, we did not have electricity. The LEC crew said that there was an issue with some phases in the main line that would need to be fixed, before we could start getting current. I had accumulated a few telephone numbers of LEC field men and kept pestering them daily. Finally, one day they came and rectified the problem and after “tipping them $200.00” our LEC at home was restored.

Last night, the LEC went off, and came back on after 30 minutes. But no, it did not come on properly. Only 2 phases are working and the 3rd phase is reading 22v only. Half the house does not have electricity.

Back to square one? Well, yes, this is Liberia. I have written to LEC and will start calling them up until they can come and fix the issue. Till then we will have to use our back-up Generator, which is another story altogether.

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