Tuesday January 5 2016

‘Referendum would kick out Umeme’

By Dan Wandera

Luweero. Luweero Diocese Bishop Eridard Nsubuga has criticised power distributor Umeme for the unexplained persistent power blackout in Luweero Town.

The bishop said if a referendum was to be held among Luweero residents to determine whether Umeme’s contract should be renewed, the company would lose out.

He said for the past two months, the safety of residents’ electrical appliances has been compromised due to abrupt persistent power outages.Bishop Nsubuga said this last weekend while delivering a sermon at St Mark Cathedral in Luweero Town.
“I have been forced to come out and talk about electricity because it is a serious problem affecting people in my diocese. When residents lose property because of upsurge of power or blackouts, then I have to come out and voice their concern,” he said.

This is simply because we have not got a clear explanation from the concerned officials,” Bishop Nsubuga said.
However, Mr Henry Rugamba, the Umeme head of communications, said Luweero District is among the districts with high power theft incidents that destabilise the power distribution plan, leading to constant power cuts.

“The religious leaders should help us to condemn acts of power theft in Luweero which is the reason we have the constant power problems. It is regrettable that the bishop, among other leaders, has never received a clear feedback from our officials regarding the problem but we shall communicate to them soon,” Mr Rugamba said in a telephone interview.

Mbale and Luweero districts, according to Mr Rugamba, top areas with highest power thefts in the country, leading to power losses and risks to lives.

Mr Joseph Kabaale, a resident of Wabinyonyi Zone in Luweero Town Council, said he had resorted to using solar power due to the constant power blackouts in the area.

Power losses in Uganda currently stand at 35 per cent, of which 19 per cent is due to illegal connections. Last September, Police in Mubende District arrested an official of Umeme for allegedly connecting electricity to people’s homes illegally. The officia was also accused of stealing wires from electric poles and selling them to residents.

The arrest came after residents complained to the Umeme area manager that their officials had stolen wires from the electric poles and also spoiling their transformer.