Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a press conference held on Monday, 22nd January, 2024, the Minister of Energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay, has disclosed that as an institution, they are set to name and shame those involved in illegal abstraction, stressing that the initiative aims to tackle the issue head-on by publicly identifying culprits.
The press conference was held at the institution’s edifice on Percival Street in Freetown, following a press release from the Electricity Supply and Distribution Authority (EDSA) which highlighted the substantial losses incurred due to people refusing to pay for electricity and vandalism of its properties.
As part of the aggressive approach, the Minister said “We will disconnect users regardless of their status and we are implementing stringent measures, including dismissal without benefits for EDSA staff involved in illicit activities.”
According to him, despite efforts from a presidential task force, they faced challenges addressing the issue, leading to the announcement of the aforesaid strategy to combat the problem.
Detailing technical and commercial losses, with commercial losses primarily attributed to theft, termed as illegal abstraction of power, the minister highlighted the financial strain on EDSA, affecting their ability to pay suppliers, including the Karpower ship and maintenance of Bumbuna hydro.
Acknowledging the economic challenges, he emphasized the insufficiency of current tariffs, leading the government to subsidize.
In response to customer complaints, Sesay mentioned that mechanisms are in place, urging customers to directly contact the customer service centre. Emphasizing the importance of paying for consumed electricity, “The public is urged to cooperate,” he stressed, further disclosing that they will embark on planned surprise inspections to catch offenders in the act. In his words, the focus extends to major customers like hotels and factories involved in electricity theft.
In his statement, the Director General of EDSA, Joe-Lahai Sormana, expressed frustration over the rampant illegal abstraction of power and vandalism within their networks. Highlighting the severe financial impact, he emphasized the hindrance it poses to the government’s ability to allocate resources for other critical activities.
Sormana highlighted EDSA’s vital role in supplying power to the public and the challenges they face in buying power without sufficient revenue.
Sormana stated “The public is encouraged to report suspicious activities to the customer service centre, as the government takes decisive steps to address the ongoing challenges in the energy sector.” PSN/23/1/2024