Gov’t wages war on electricity theft


December 20, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy has formed and launched an Electricity Offence Committee in order to tackle the rate and spate of electricity theft in the country.

The Committee was formed and launched at the Conference Room of the Ministry of Justice yesterday on Lamina Sankoh Street in Freetown. It comprises officials from the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Office of National Security (ONS), Electricity Contractors Association, EDSA, Director of Public Prosecution, among others.

Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy, said after the plenary meeting with stakeholders, they have decided to come up with resolutions which include setting up an Electricity Offence Committee, a Taskforce to pursue offenders, who deceive and willfully damage electricity properties, and those who illegally construct houses under electricity transmission lines, among others.

“The theft of electricity has been causing the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) a lot. They have been getting both electricity and financial losses. This is the first ever step we have taken to minimise or eliminate the theft of electricity,” the Minister said.

The Minister of Energy said to detect illegal connections from top-end customers would enable EDSA to avoid financial loss.

Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Energy, Dr. Patrick Tarawally, said those who construct dwelling houses under the electricity transmission lines must be considered as offenders.
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“We are concerned about the safety of people and properties. Many people are constructing a two or more storey building under transmission lines and that endangers their lives,” he said.

Deputy Director General of EDSA, Dr. Henry Saccoi, said the newly launched committee would help them to minimise the theft of electricity in the country.

“We have seen situations where people who are caught stealing electricity are being punished by asking them to pay minimal fees. That is not enough.We should publish their names in the newspapers so as to deter others from doing same,” he said.

He claimed that people were enjoying smooth electricity supply without paying for it, adding that in some areas there were electricity connections but one cannot tell whether they steal electricity because there was no supply of electricity at the time EDSA officials  went on inspection.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sulaiman A. Bah, said he has never seen where slums can be transformed into cities anywhere in the world. He added that the government is encouraging people to dwell in slum communities because they enjoy the same facilities that people in the city enjoy.

“That is why I am not interested in politics because I am very blunt. If I have my way, those living in slum communities should not benefit from water or electricity supplies. In fact, I want to say it here that most of the electricity theft is being done in the slum communities,” he claimed.

He said electricity meters were not in the shop to sell but all of them were coming from EDSA and that in some cases, EDSA’s independent electricity contractors should be held accountable for illegal connections.

Representing the Office of National Security, Samuel Patrick Kandoh, said the ONS and EDSA officials once embarked on detecting people that were engaged in electricity theft but  found it very difficult because most of the houses they visited in the slum communities were having prepaid meters.

 “Most of the illegal connections are done underground. It is good that we have set up this committee and I hope we should use it to combat the so many problems that the electricity providers face,” he said.

The Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Retired Major Sengun Koroma, said electricity theft was a disease that was killing the nation.