Uganda: Luweero Residents Cry Foul Over Power Outage

(File photo)
18 January 2019

Luweero — Traders, corporate companies and domestic electricity consumers in Luweero District are crying foul over the constant power outages saying the impasse has contributed losses in their businesses.

While the domestic power consumers count losses in destroyed household electric appliances including television sets, officials from the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) in Luweero on Wednesday reported loss of four power circuit breakers as a result of power outages.

The NWSC Luweero area manager, Mr Ronald Kisakye, on Wednesday said: "We have a Umeme office in Luweero, but our repeated appeals to have the power outage problem resolved has not yielded fruit. On average, we lose one circuit breaker per day which costs about Shs150,000 to replace. On Wednesday, we lost four power circuit breakers from the different water pumps in Wobulenzi, Zirobwe, Luweero and Bombo towns."

The Luweero Town Council LC3 chairperson, Mr Paul Mukungu, said: "The residents are now blaming power outage on the newly installed transformers. Most areas which received the new electricity transformers have the outage problems. Umeme must not run away from a problem they are supposed to address."

He added: "We are just holding back our people from protesting. We hoped that the problem would be resolved in time, but we have failed to get a clear response."

According to Mr Mukungu, the problem has persisted for close to one month.

In Wobulenzi Town, owners of grain milling machines, salon operators and several members of the business community claim that the power outages have not been explained by Umeme.

"The Umeme officials who come for the billing are less concerned about our plight when we approach them. They simply tell us to use the customer care telephone lines which have not been helpful," Mr Joseph Ssendege, a grain miller at Modern Zone in Wobulenzi Town Council, said on Wednesday.

Mr Stephen Ilungole, the Umeme communications manager, said their staff in Luweero were not aware of the problem.

"I contacted them [Umeme staff in Luweero] after getting that information from you, [the press] and said they are not aware. We have however dispatched our officers to investigate the problem and have it resolved swiftly," Mr Ilungole said in a telephone interview. on Wednesday.

Challenges

Whereas other factors such as technical faults, and bad weather contribute to the power outage in most parts of the country, theft of copper cables, angle bars and vandalism of electric poles are always the main causes of power outage, according to the power supplier.

Vandals are reported to be making a fortune through selling stolen copper wires to unscrupulous scrap dealers.

Background

In April 2017 , parts of Mubende District and the entire Kibaale District were thrown into darkness for several weeks following the theft of copper cables and angle bars on Mubende -Kakumiro -Kibaale power line. The power company is currently losing Shs106 billion annually from an average of Shs73b in 2014 due to power theft including non-payment of bills, vandalism and illegal connections.

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