Who looted turbines at Liberia's Mount Coffee?

Volta River Dam project17 February 2014, Monrovia – Liberia’s Mount Coffee Hydro Dam, the prewar infrastructure that was the principal source of energy in Liberia looks derelict and pillaged. No one needs a rocket scientist to be told that Mount Coffee was looted, not only by rebels who seized the energy plant in 1990, but also by some former officials of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime.

President Sirleaf, speaking at the ground breaking occasion on Saturday expressed concern about the disappearance of two turbines at Mount Coffee.

The Liberian leader told the audience that when she first visited Mount Coffee back in 2007, there were two turbines and a Crane left at the facility. However, when she came back to Mount Coffee, the turbines and Cranes were gone.

Although rebels seized control and looted parts of Mount Coffee, including the turbines, however, the equipment has since disappeared in thin air.

The President’s concern comes amidst reports that the two turbines and Crane were looted and sold supposedly by some former officials of her government. The identities of the former officials were not revealed, but sources said the turbines were looted and sold as scrap.

At the ground breaking ceremony, President Sirleaf, who appeared annoyed, called the Commissioner of White Plain to investigate the disappearance of the turbines.

“When I came here, I saw the two turbines and a Crane, I left them here, and when I came back they were gone. The Commissioner is going to ensure that the Turbines and Crane come back,” the Liberian Leader assured the audience.

President Sirleaf said Mount Coffee is an expensive project and would do everything to ensure energy is restored to the Liberian people.

She praised Liberia’s international partners for their support and noted that the restoration of electricity would bring about stability and economic empowerment for the people. She encouraged Liberians to be patient as her administration tries to address the needs of the country.

In July 1990, rebel forces under the command of now war crime convict and former President Charles Taylor seized the dam and shut off power and water to Monrovia. During the first civil War [in 1990], the project’s intake dam was destroyed on one end while the rest received other damage.

In early 2005, proposals were made to repair the facility and restore power, including a proposal by China. The United States Trade and Development Agency gave US$400,000 to Liberia in February 2007 to study rebuilding and expanding the project. The study showed no structural damage to the dam, but that most of the project’s facilities would need to be rebuilt at a cost of US$383 million. As of August 2008, the Liberian government was considering privatization of the project for a fixed number of years as the nation did not have the resources to fund the repair.

In May 2012, the Mt. Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project was initiated with a series of surveying and engineering assessments of the feasibility of revitalizing the plant. This work culminated with the signing of a contract in April 2013 with a Norwegian company (Norplan AS) and a German company (Fichtner GmbH) to revitalize the defunct power-plant by 2015.


– The News

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