Power distributor Umeme says it has lost Shs98b in Jinja Sub-region, between January and March.
According to the demarcation of Umeme service centres, Jinja Sub-region, which also includes Lugazi and Kayunga, is under Kampala East region.
While speaking to Daily Monitor yesterday, Mr John Baptist Nuwamanya, the metering sales manager, said during the same period, the country lost 191 million units or about 18 per cent of all the energy Umeme procures from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), which translates into a loss of Shs97.7 billion.
“Jinja Sub-region, between January and March, lost 15.4 million units to power theft which translates into Shs8,” Mr Nuwamanya.
He added: “Umeme cannot fight this vice of power theft on its own but requires the entire citizenry. Power theft is closely linked to illegal connections that are not executed to standard and pose a risk of electrocution to the general public.”
Mr Nuwamanya said the top service centres where energy theft is prominent in greater Kampala Region are Nateete, Banda, Najjanankumbi, Wandegeya, Nakulabye and Jinja while outside or Greater Kampala includes Bombo, Mbale, Masaka and Mityana.
For that reason, Umeme on Wednesday rolled out an operation dubbed Komboa (Swahili for redeem), which in Umeme’s case is to redeem its network from illegal users and operators.
Komboa was earlier launched in all the greater Kampala districts mentioned above and will be extended to those outside Kampala too.
The operation, which will go on until December, will identify illegal connections, disconnect them, arrest and investigate suspects and present them in the courts of law.
In Bugembe Town Council, Jinja City, where the operation has already begun, more than 100 people were arrested and taken to Jinja Police Station after they were allegedly found with illegal connections and tampered meters.
“Power thieves affect and cause frustration to our legitimate customers through prolonged power outages,” Mr Stephen Ilungole, the Umeme public and media relations manager, said.
Mr Dauda Hiriga, the Kiira regional police commander, said during the operation, they will offer direct support to Umeme in the form of personnel and an enforcement team to see that all those involved in power theft and vandalism are investigated and arrested.