Traders operating along Nasser road on Thursday went on strike protest the failure by power distributor Umeme to restore power supply to the area claiming it was affecting their businesses.
The traders claim the power went off last Saturday and that their pleas have been ignored by both Umeme and their landlords. Nasser road is occupied by traders majorly involved in the printing and publishing business.
Some of the traders blocked Nasser road, burnt papers and plastics while others carried placards expressing their discontent. This forced the anti-riot police to intervene and disperse them with teargas.
Ms Beatrice Ssenyonjo who runs a printing business on Printer’s Arcade told Daily Monitor that both Printer’s and Miracle arcades have not had power since Saturday last week but neither Umeme nor their landlords had come to their rescue.
“We shall riot until Umeme brings back our power because we have bank loans to settle, clients want their supplies, the landlords want their rent and our children have to go to school and eat,” Ms Ssenyonjo said.
Mr Emmanuel Bwebale a machine operator said that electricity is the lifeline of their work and without which they cannot operate.
“We spend a fortune on expensive fuel every day and we can’t sustain our businesses when we are making losses,” he said.
Deputy Resident City Commissioner in charge of Kampala Central, Mr Allan Kajik who spoke to the traders urged them to keep calm as the matter is to be resolved.
“We don’t have any alternative for these people because they don’t sell clothes. Their power should be returned as fast as possible,” he said.
He said that he was going to convene a meeting between Umeme, the leaders of the traders and the city authorities to ensure that such black-outs are not experienced by the traders in the area.
“We have contacted Umeme people and they are on their way to reconnect the area back on the grid however rioting by the traders will not solve anything and we shall be here to maintain law and order,’ said Mr Aaron Baguma, the officer in charge of Central Police Station Kampala.
When contacted, Umeme media manager Stephen Illungole, said that the area network is under refurbishment and maintenance which caused the problem.
“We are improving our network but we can only work at night and that causes delays but by Saturday, they should have a steady supply of power,” said Mr Illungole.
This is not the first time that traders operating along Nasser are protesting power outages.
In November 2013, they took to the street over a four-day power outage which they said was affecting their business. Umeme consequently restored their power. It had also happened two years before in 2011.