1 February 2013

Uganda: Power Blackout Stalls Court Business Over Sh38 Million Debt

A power blackout has stalled business at the Court of Appeal, Land and Civil divisions of the High Court in Kampala since January 22 with electricity distributor- Umeme demanding for shs 38m in unpaid bills since September 2012.

The courts that occupy three floors on the 12-storey Twed Towers located on Plot 10 Kafu Road. Although the registries were open thought the day the computers used by the clerks were shut down.

Stacks of newly filed cases were placed on the tables, awaiting to be entered into the network system. Usually ,immediately a case is filed, it is registered and records stored on the judiciary computer network system.

Judiciary spokesperson Erias Kisawuzi noted that the situation had compelled some judges to stay away since it would be illogical for them to sit in their offices. The spokesperson noted that the judiciary spends sh10b annually on rent countrywide for their offices.

He said the predicament had slowed the judiciary's resolution to fight case backlog, however complained that the utility provider exhibited harshness.

"As an arm of Government, we cannot default but only delay payment due to the financial constraints. These are commercial problems of hired premises where landlords and those in charge of utilities may not appreciate how Government works," Kisawuzi said earlier in the day.

He expressed hope that debt will be cleared a power restored soon. Kisawuzi said the ultimate solution to avoid such embarrasment would be for the judiciary to construct its own court premises.

He also disclosed that the affected premises had been served with a notice of intent to disconnect water by National Water and Sewerage Corporation with a bill of acumulated arrears amounting to over sh2m. However, details of the accumulated period was not readily available.

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