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.