Customers with faulty meters have to wait for post-lockdown

Wednesday May 6 2020

Accuracy: A man inputs a Yaka token number.

Accuracy: A man inputs a Yaka token number. FILE PHOTO  

By CHRISTINE KASEMIIRE

Customers who are currently facing challenges with their electricity meters have to wait until lockdown is lifted to get assistance.
There was an overflow of comments from people on social media last week claiming that their pre-paid electricity meters (yaka) were fast running and reading absurd levels of electricity consumption during the lockdown.

“I thought I was losing my mind. I loaded 50 units and by morning 10 units had gone. Yet usually, I use 2 units per day,” one of the social media complainants queried.
Speaking to Daily Monitor, Mr John Paul Musimami, deputy executive director in charge of compliance at Uganda National Bureau of Standards, (UNBS) said customers should notify the agency.

“They can contact UNBS at its toll free line 0800133133. Currently, UNBS is not carrying out field activities. Notification may be done but response will be post lock down,” he said explaining that the claims could be valid if the meter was tampered with before. However, tests would be required to prove that they (meters) are faulty.

Power distributor
Mr Selestino Babungi, managing director Umeme, explained that as people spend more time at home, certainly they should be experiencing an increase in their power consumption.
While encouraging customers to reach out to the company for assistance, he also urged them to utilise the Umeme application in order to calculate their power consumption.
Electricity Regulatory Authority said it works closely with UNBS which is mandated to test meters for efficiency.
Important to note, however, is that meters are said to reduce in accuracy after five to seven years.

Meter testing slowed by covid-19
The decade-old challenge of faulty meters dates back to postpaid meters before Yaka was introduced in 2012.

Verification of meters
To curb the challenge of faulty meters, UNBS started verifying new meters imported into the country.
In 2018, UNBS embarked on testing already installed meters.
However, testing of the customers’ meters already in use has now been hampered by the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Mr Musimami, deputy executive director, UNBS said testing of prepaid electricity meters has been affected because the organisation has to scale down operations as a result of Covid-19.
“Because of Covid-19, it is no longer business as usual. We have had to scale down. We are only testing in house. We are not going to the field because you would also need Umeme staff and they have also scaled down,” he said.

Limited equipment
However, because of the limited equipment, only 5,000 already installed meters in the areas of Gayaza, Gayaza road, Ntinda, Entebbe road, Kayunga road and Mukono among others had been verified prior to the lockdown.
“With millions of meters already installed, that number will not be realised immediately. In 2018, it was at a minimal scale. We only had three equipment initially and customers were not used to the exercise,” he noted, explaining their testing capacity of averagely 2,000 meters per day.

Test benches
UNBS in March received two new installed in-house test benches from Electricity Regulatory Authority that would see it increase the testing capacity to a daily output of 8,000 to 10,000 meters.
President Museveni on Monday eased lockdown measures to a small extent but UNBS will resume activities including testing after the lockdown is lifted.

Meter testing
The decade-old challenge of faulty meters dates back to postpaid meters before Yaka was introduced in 2012.
To curb the challenge of faulty meters, UNBS started verifying new meters imported into the country.
In 2018, UNBS embarked on testing already installed meters.
However, testing of the meters already in use by customers has now been hampered by the coronavirus (Covid-19).

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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