As we reported on Friday, the power distributor Umeme is giving many customers incessant headaches. Of course Umeme is a virtual monopoly, which means Ugandans have but little realistic choice. Still one would expect the company to dedicate more effort towards ensuring a satisfied clientele.
Customers complain that payments made with mobile money are not immediately reflected on their power accounts, requiring them to visit Umeme offices - losing more time and money. According to Umeme officials, however, the other option is to keep the text message sent from Umeme upon payment and show it to the fellows who may try to disconnect your power.
But this implies that you know exactly when Umeme 'inspectors' will come, so that either you stay at home and show them the message or you make sure someone is at home to do that. And all this after you have paid their money well ahead of time.
In our story last week, officials also suggested that consumers in more informal neighbourhoods were bound to be more prone to power cuts because of rampant power thefts. This reminds one of the primary school teacher who caned the entire class because one pupil made a prohibited sound.
Umeme is being unfair to honest consumers in poor neighbourhoods who make sure they pay their bills on time. Only recently, several streets in Kamwokya, in the Ugandan capital Kampala, spent nearly a week without power.
Reason? The transformer had broken down and the company was "not sure" when it would be fixed. Many businesses did not work for those days, because they depended on power. They must have wondered why Umeme could not give them a standby transformer. And if this can happen in the heart of the capital, how much longer would it take if the problem was somewhere in Kyesiiga, Masaka district?
Clearly, Umeme has enough smart people to know that they must not treat customers so shabbily.