Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 March 2021:
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, yesterday expressed indignation and outrage at the rising number of incidents involving the vandalising and stealing of electricity cables and equipment at installations and networks across the country by criminals.
Less than 20% of households in Sierra Leone have access to continuous supply of electricity.
This rising number of cases of destruction and theft of power lines has been confirmed by the Ministry and EDSA as the root cause of the power outages and erratic supply of electricity in the country.
Alhaji Kanja Sesay said that he couldn’t fathom how criminals or unpatriotic citizens could even conceive the idea of destroying electricity installations with a view to preventing fellow citizens from enjoying one of their fundamental social rights.
He said that the Government through the Ministry of Energy is making efforts to address the perennial problem of poor electricity supply through various projects.
The Minister said that he has received reports of the vandalizing of 41 key installations, adding that these acts are purely borne out of the wickedness of criminals and saboteurs.
He described the thefts and destruction as damaging to the energy sector and genuine efforts in transforming the economy.
Alhaji Kanja Sesay said that legal action will be instituted, and punitive actions taken against those caught stealing and destroying electricity assets. The Sierra Leone Police and the Office of National Security have been informed, he said.
He maintained that the Ministry and EDSA will intensify active community sensitization and awareness raising campaigns, adding that communities should be told about the importance of owning the facilities.
He said that the National Commission for Civic Education has also been informed.
Mr. Sesay spoke about the huge revenue losses caused by these criminal acts, and spoke of plans to use technology in protecting installations.
“The Ministry of Energy and EDSA are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to assure citizens of reliable and affordable electricity and in protecting key electricity installations,” the minister said.
With electricity, no one will mess with the cables. So give electricity to the city, do not pretend its due to cable theft. Don’t take us for fools please.
This is what happens when you have frequent blackouts or no power in your country. Thieves will never mess around with power lines carrying hundreds or thousands of kilovolts. If the electricity was constant, there will be no way for them to tamper with cables or high power electrical installations. By the way, we should also be concerned about climate change. The winds and rain are heavy nowadays which is a potential danger to our transmission lines, electric poles, electrical installations and more importantly, loss of human lives. The best thing to do now Mr Minister, is to embark on replacing overhead lines with underground cables. The Engineers and management in your department will help with the feasibility studies, case studies, design, modelling etc. It is a very easy task. Very easy. God protect our people from electrocution due to negligence by their government.
I think those that are engaged in such activities, if caught and convicted of theft should be persecuted and punished to the full. These selfish criminals are not different from the public officials that are engaged in siphoning public funds into their private accounts. This is another form of corruption in a different level. And we cannot allow our country to be submerged in corruption, in every work of life, and expect it to develop. Fighting corruption in all its form, should be a collective effort. Government or the ACC alone will not able to win this fight. Yes they can fight the Fat Cats, and the rest of us should be fighting our own battles in our own communities. Because once you start to dig deep into this cable theft, I am pretty sure these are home grown criminals.
Someone in the community knows the people that are involved in this sort of criminal activities. Maybe a free telephone hotline set up by government, for people to report suspects will help. This mentality that have be-devilled Sierra Leone government property has been one of the greatest impediments to our countrys development. “NA GOVERNMENT PROPERTY” Those that think like that must have a hole in their forehead. One of the ways of tackling this growing problems, is for a government to set up a special task force within the Sierra Leone police force to go after these criminals. And the powers given to the task force should not only be limited to going after these enemies of progress but, also the people or the scrap yards that are buying or demanding electricity cables. Handling or buying stolen government property should be seen like a joint enterprise crime between the thieves and the willing buyers.
Covertly, installing CCTV cameras in areas the criminals least expect, will go a long way in helping identify these unpatriotic criminals that only think about their welbeing, never mind the good of all the communities denied power as a result of their wicked actions.