Gunfire on Monday rocked Gulu Municipality as Police and UPDF soldiers foiled a protest by businessmen and local politicians.
Hundreds of businessmen led by local politicians had turned up in big numbers to protest against what they described as the constant power blackout within Gulu Municipality.
However, as they were heading to the Umeme service centre along Bank lane, they were dispersed with teargas and live bullets fired by security operatives.
Protestors had placards reading; “Umeme Must Go” and “Umeme should not be an obstacle to Gulu in gaining a city status” among others.
For the last three weeks, there have been constant power blackouts within the town and other neighbouring areas within Gulu District.
The protestors led by Kilak South Member of Parliament Gilbert Olanya and Aruu County legislator Samuel Odonga Otto argue that the constant power outage has been affecting their businesses.
Mr Olanya said, the protest is timely since the Umeme contract is soon expiring and might not be renewed by government.
“If power blacks out in Gulu, all the districts in the region are affected since Gulu is the central business district for Acholi Sub-region,” he said.
Mr Olanya accused Police of using teargas and live bullets against the peaceful protestors.
“Time is now for Police and other security agencies to give way to people who protest against issues affecting them,” he said.
Mr Otto said there is an urgent need to throw out Umeme since they have failed to deliver as expected.
Mr Christopher Acire, one of the businessmen in Gulu town, said Umeme should focus on the issues at hand instead of conniving with the state forces to frustrate the protestors.
“They are always in time when it comes to billing but when a problem comes, they cannot put things right,” he said.
Business comes to a stand still
Several shops were closed along the major roads, as police battled the rioters.
Groceries, electronic dealer shops, and boutiques were all shut down as Police and Army had running battles with the angry protestors.
Mr Tom Awuzu, the Gulu Umeme manager declined to comment on the matter, arguing that they were to address members of the press at an appropriate time.
Several people were arrested by police during the protest.
Mr Jimmy Patrick Okem, the Aswa River Region Police spokesperson said he was yet to ascertain the exact number of those arrested.
"It’s true we have arrested some of the protestors. I am yet to verify their numbers. Security personnel were however able to calm down the protest successfully," Mr Okema told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview Monday.
Reporting by Stephen Okello, Cissy Ejang, Juluis Ocungi and P Olycap Kalokwera