Corporation laments "stealing" of electricity
The Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) has confirmed a significant increase in cases of meter tampering during the past 12 months and warned it will push for the introduction of harsher penalties.
E.P.C. Chief Executive Officer, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, said meter tampering is the same as "stealing" and the Corporation will push for the law to be amended to introduce tougher penalties.
Tologata did not have a figure on the amount involved but he confirmed there are more than a hundred cases of meter tampering.
“We will amend the law, to reflect a harsher penalty than it is right now," he said, adding that at the moment "it’s just a fine."
"This is stealing from the E.P.C. and there should be jail time. There has to be a strong message to the public as deterrence for electricians and members of the public that meter tampering is illegal."
The C.E.O. confirmed that there are more than 100 cases of tampering with electricity meters this year and this figure represents the highest number of cases in the Corporation's history.
He told the Samoa Observer the law in place is not harsh enough and it needs to change.
“We have to send out a strong message that stealing from the government is unacceptable," he said. "We can’t do that now; the current law is a slap on the wrist.”
Tologata said when E.P.C. officers came across a family home that had evidence of meter tampering, they disconnected the electricity and removed electrical wires from the pole to the residence.
“We suspect that electricians are behind this," he said. "Once we catch them (if they are licensed) we will strip their license and take them to Court. This will also be applicable to the unlicensed electrician (members of the public).
He said the standard fee is $3,000 if the family wants to have electricity re-connected to their residence.
“The electrician has to check the residence if the electrical wires are intact and safe for the E.P.C. to proceed to connect the electricity," he added.
According to the C.E.O., addressing the illegal practice is a priority for them, consequently staff conducting random unscheduled visits to premises including private homes.
He also urged members of the public to report any suspected cases to the E.P.C.