The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Protests For Light On The Rise

For sometime now there has been series of demonstrations in almost every quarter of Monrovia and its environs regarding the issue of lack of electricity.
Most of the demonstrations by residents which resulted into road blocks early morning hours witnessed another incident when citizens were enroute to work only to be greeted by chanting slogans by residents who threw invectives at public officials.
At one time, it was the residents of Caldwell and the protest moved on to the New Georgia towards Chocolate City Communities, the Duport Road and then towards the GSA, ELWA Communities.
The early morning protesters created road blocks calling on the government through the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to replace their damaged transformers or provide transformers in their communities and that action prevented citizens from using those routes.
The Gardnersville residents agitated that it is about a year since their transformer got damaged and that they are tired of being in the darkness as that too is preventing their movement especially at night due to the constant attacks on their person by criminals.
Vehicles plying that route were constrained to use the Dixville-Caldwell route or the 72nd through Congo Town routes while the crowd had to be contained with the help of the Emergency Response Unit of the Police.
As the police was making efforts to calm the New Georgia Junction commotion, the GSA-ELWA Communities in Paynesville were also on a three-day of their protest for similar benefit.
According to them, their transformer that connected houses within those vicinities including former Vice President Joseph Boakai’s residence had been off for almost six months and nothing is being done.
The protesters who had assembled in front of Speaker Bhofal Chambers’ residence with placards prevented his family from leaving their home as early as 5:00 A.M. on yesterday while some gathered around the Comptroller General, Janka Kowo’s, residence thereby causing a serious traffic jam.
They accused Speaker Chambers of demanding that the only LEC transformer in the area be installed in his premises and that has prevented his neighbours from having access to it.
When contacted, Speaker Chambers said it is saddening that residents would make allegations without finding out the real story and that he has too many issues to deal with and would not direct his attention to things that could distract his vision.
Speaker Chambers said the transformer in question located in his fence at the back of the former Vice President’s residence is a private transformer installed by the Land Star Engineering Service.
According to the Speaker, his intention to erect a private transformer in his yard is for his convenience because the transformer installed by the LEC was overloaded and because he did not want to be connected to such transformer, he paid a private company to have that one installed in his premises.
Speaker Chambers who said he had just returned from Maryland County on Sunday said people tend to carry misinformation about issues, and that when spread becomes a problem; apparently that was what led to the incident that occurred at the front of his residence and in fact prevented his family from leaving their premises.
Meanwhile, according to the Manager of the Land Star Engineering Services, Cletus Kofi Sombe, it costs the Speaker about US$ 14, 000 to have the transformer installed thereby clarifying that the transformer is not owned by the LEC.
Also, several aggrieved residents of the Outland Community in Duport Road yesterday morning set up another road block on the main route thus preventing other citizens including vehicles, motorcyclists, students and other business personnel from commuting.
The aggrieved protesters said it has been over two years since their transformers blew off and that on numerous occasions, they engaged the management of the LEC and their District Representative but all efforts failed.
The residents added that the criminal rate has drastically increased as a result of the lack of current thereby creating serious fear among them and other pedestrians going and coming from work.
All of the road blocks in protest for electricity thus impeding the free flow of the morning traffic on Monday created serious delays for commuters getting to their early destinations in time, and the drivers used the situation to increase transport fares with the escalating of prices of gasoline from LD570 to LD 620 and fuel from LD 580 to LD 630 respectively.
As it stands, the lack of electricity is becoming an alarming issue with even those within central Monrovia vicinity feeling the pinch of not getting access to electricity on issues that it takes long to repair their damaged transformers and the residents have to purchase electricity from vendors believed to be agents of the very Liberia Electricity Corporation.
However, following hours of their protest action, the Liberia National Police (LNP) by directive of the Anti-Riot Team head, Superintendent Kennedy David Leo with badge #1689, ordered the release of tear gas among the peaceful protesters which led to several damages and loss of items and other belongings of some of the pedestrians.
The LNP also arrested over six community dwellers and placed them behind bars at the Zone 5 Police Station for setting-up road blocks on the main road leading to the Parker Paint Junction in Paynesville.
The Outland Community Chairperson, Joseph Quaqua, expressed his dissatisfaction and frustration over the police action thus describing it as anti-democratic and a complete contradiction of Articles 14 and 15 of the Liberian Constitution which call for freedom of assemble and expression.

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