Electricity distributor Umeme has momentarily suspended its operations against illegal connections in Masaka city following complaints of brutality and high-handiness from members of the community.
The operation dubbed “Komboa” which is aimed at minimizing power loss through theft across the country was rolled out in 2019 and several customers with illegal connections have been arrested and penalized for consuming unmetered electricity.
The power losses currently stand at 17.5 percent in the Masaka sub region, according to the power distributor
Ms Florence Nsubuga, the Chief Operations Officer at Umeme said they have halted the operation to carry out thorough assessments due to public outcry of high-handedness that have been brought against their field enforcement teams.
Ms Nsubuga who was speaking to leaders from greater Masaka sub region during a stakeholders meeting in greater Masaka on Monday, indicated that they have registered several complaints of people decrying how the operation was being conducted, which is worsening their relationship and image with the power consumers.
“We have opened all our communication channels to all kinds of feedback from the community to enable Umeme improve service delivery and how such operations can be done better,” she said.
She however, indicated that the operations will be recommence if power theft continues in the sub region.
Mr Isaac Katewanga, the Umeme manager in charge of the Western region said they have embarked on engaging stakeholders in various regions to help them discourage power theft in their communities and see how best they can tame the illegal connection vices.
He said that besides the commercial losses the country suffers from illegal connection and vandalism of infrastructure and equipment.
“The country is also losing a high number of people who are electrocuted, a trend Umeme needs to reverse with immediate effect,” he said.
Mr Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament and MP for Nyendo-Mukungwe Division in Masaka City, blamed the power distributor for carrying out the operation without involving local leaders.
“The operation was poorly guided because local leaders were not considered. Police in Masaka is already tainted and this has given them (police and Umeme staff) an opportunity to extort from community members,” he said.
Mpuuga challenged Umeme to provide accountability for the money so far recovered in the operation.