Govt probes Umeme over unauthorised Yaka deductions

A pre-paid meter in a house. Dubbed Yaka, the billing system requires consumers to pay for electricity before using it. FILE PHOTO

Government through the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has started investigating power distributor Umeme limited on allegations that some of its clients on prepaid vending electricity system, Yaka received less units than expected in March and April this year.

ERA says the investigation follows complaints from several electricity consumers who allegedly received less energy units compared to what is expected based on the approved tariff structure.

"We have received complaints from electricity consumers about unexpected deductions from prepaid Yaka vended amounts in March and April 2021 by Umeme limited. We direct Umeme to stop unauthorized Yaka deductions,” the letter, a copy of which has been seen by this publication, reads.

Umeme’s uncommunicated action has left consumers with less energy units compared to what is expected based on the approved tariff structure, the statement signed by ERA director communications, Mr Julius Wandera, adds.

According to ERA, by adjusting monthly lifeline units and imposing fixed recoverable amounts on consumers, Umeme is implementing a tariff structure different from that approved by the regulator and is in violation of the Electricity Act 1999.

"We appreciate the patience of affected electricity users as we investigate the matter," Mr Wandera added.

One of the affected consumers who spoke to this reporter said he paid Shs10,000 in December 2020 and got 16.8 units. The same happened in January, February and March, but in April, he got only four units after paying the same amount of money.

However, in an earlier interview this publication, Umeme spokesman, Mr Peter Kaujju said they had, in error, given more Yaka units to their prepaid customers in December 2020, than they paid for.
“In December, while maintaining our system, some customers got more units than they paid for. We are correcting the error,” Mr Kaujju said last week.

Umeme has not shared the number of people affected.
Despite the explanation and calculations by Umeme on their social media platforms, many of their customers are still insisting that the figures aren’t adding up.


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