This is the first time a community has taken the step to remove illegal connections in their area. Most of the time, PNG Power engages police force during disconnection exercises in centres around the country.
This disconnection exercise began on 04 September 2018, and will continue into other neighbouring villages in the Gehemo Council Ward until all illegal connections are identified and removed.
The members of the other nearby communities including Aipos, Asariufa, Kamiufa, Kefamo, Okesana, Five-Six Mile and Goroka Town have also agreed to join forces and help disconnect illegal connections in their areas.
Village Court Magistrate Barry Goso said he was a man of the law and he felt that it was unfair when some people paid for electricity while others were using power “freely”.
He said PNG Power “must arrest” people doing illegal connection and others will stop too.
“Me and my boys will help PNG Power and check all the houses in our council ward for illegal connection and remove them. We are also planning to extend this disconnection exercise to other council wards and settlements in Goroka,” Goso said.
An increasing number of illegal connections in the Massi and Kerefa areas destroyed two power transformers in June 2018 and cut off power supply to churches, schools and businesses.
The third transformer was damaged again by a local who cut a tree onto low voltage power lines. PNG Power replaced the damaged transformer and restored power supply on 04 September 2018.
When PNG Power explained the cause of the outages, the community leaders identified the houses on illegal connection. Before energising power supply, the villagers and PNG Power officials disconnected all the illegal connections.
A total of 15 illegal connections were identified and disconnected. The villagers also revealed the names of electricians and contractors who took money from the villagers for illegal connections.
Kerefa community representative, Jeremiah Jerrifia, pledged his community’s support to assist PNG Power remove illegal connections and ensure people involved will be prosecuted if they did not comply with PNG Power’s call for proper connections.
“In Massi and Kerefa, I have educated people to start questioning anybody climbing poles without a PNG Power vehicle to conduct any work on power lines, especially in service connection, and they must report straight to PNG Power office.
“We are keen to look after our power supply and we will not tolerate illegal activities that can cause outages.
“We have resolved in our meeting with the PNG Power Goroka Manager, Paul Nau, to work with his team, especially in ridding illegal connections, and healthy clearance from the start to the end of the line as our contribution towards looking after this essential service.”
PNG Power Manager Investigations & Protective Services, Donbosco Mruwari, said PNG Power has been defrauded through illegal connections, which constitute the criminal offence of Fraudulent Appropriation of Power under section 382 of the Criminal Code Act.
Mruwari said PNG Power has prosecuted many people from various provinces around the country who have been accessing power illegally.
“Those customers and their agents and PNG Power employees that assist in carrying out those illegal connections are equally guilty of committing that crime and thereby are to be arrested and charged criminally and prosecuted,” Mruwari added.
(Picture: Community representative Luhule Inapero, village magistrate Barry Goso and PNG Power customer services officer Solomon Kui showing an illegal connection at Massi village)