Zacharia Jalloh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 September 2021:
Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, has formally unveiled the Joint Field Task Force today, 21st September 2021, in the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications at Youyi Building, Freetown.
At a special press briefing, the Minister of Energy updated the media extensively on the issue of electricity theft and other related infractions.
This criminal act has negatively impacted the country economically and security wise such that the Ministry’s ability to sustain uninterrupted electricity supply is grossly undermined.
It is against this backdrop that President Dr Julius Maada Bio advised the Energy Minister to engage colleague ministers to address the issue.
The Ministers of Energy, Defense, Internal Affairs, and Information and Communications met at the Office of National Security (ONS) and suggested the setting up of a Joint Field Task Force comprising the ONS, military, police, EDSA and the Ministry of Information and Communications.
Energy Minister, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, in his remarks said that people want to use electricity but do not want to pay for it, thereby causing both economic and security concerns which is why it is considered as a national security threat.
“Each time you vandalize one transformer, on average each transformer services 300 to 500 people. When such transformer is destroyed, you are depriving 500 people of electricity in that community,” the Minister explained.
With so much energy pumped into the system, he went on, EDSA continues to record insufficient returns.
According to the Minister, they have had to rely on the Ministry of Finance to subsidize the energy sector every month. “The money we collect from consumers is what we use to pay our Independent Power Producers (IPPs) so if people are not paying but embarking on stealing electricity, these IPPs will stop supplying electricity,” he said.
The Minister went further to state that on the directive of His Excellency President Dr.Julius Maada Bio, he appealed to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice to set up a Special Electricity Crimes Court. ” I am pleased to announce to you that six of such courts have been set up”.
According to Alhaji Kanja Sesay, the essence of these courts is to immediately try people suspected of engaging in electricity theft.
He concluded by disclosing that 62 suspects have been arrested and some are already facing trial in these special electricity crimes courts.
The Minister sternly warned the public to desist from such unlawful acts, stressing that no one is above the law. “If you are caught irrespective of who you are you will face the full force of the law.”
Anyone convicted of electricity theft is liable to pay a fine of 50 million Leones or serve two years in prison.
About the author
Zacharia Jalloh is a senior official at Strategic Communications Unit, Ministry if Information and Communication, Government of Sierra Leone.
“ Anyone convicted of electricity theft is liable to pay a fine of 50 million Leones or serve two years in prison.”
This hefty fine or punishment should by all means deter would be ‘ electricity power thieves’. On the flip side however, one is left to ponder upon the predicament of millions of citizens in the nation, struggling to even afford a square meal for the day, not to mention affording a monthly electricity bill. In an ideal world, it will only seem fair if top government officials, engaging in massive looting of state resources, depriving millions of citizens a living standards, are also held accountable. Because when one think of it, those who are engaging in electricity theft and those ministers engaging in massive looting are no different . Both parties are depriving the state from developmental aspirations.
With regards the theft or cables at Transformers Installations, I would suggest that the Energy Minister Award contract to Private Security Companies to protect the Installations that are located in remote areas. The members of the Police and Soldiers in the Task Force can include these areas in their night patrols. This will be a win -win situation, that is creating jobs for the private security industry which by the way is the second most employing sector in most developed and developing countries, and they in turn will save the ministry the unnecessary money spent to import and repairs the stolen cables and damaged transformers as well as the embarrassment to always compliant about net servicing the populace well because of theft of cables and transformers. .
The only caution would be the contract to private securities should not be based on nepotism or familiarity but rather to a security firm with proven record to protect the properties of their client.