Richard Okello, the Lira City Commercial officer explained that the city council is struggling to clear the bill to pave way for the sub-metering amidst the challenge of local revenue collection. He says individual vendors will bear the cost of installation, saying the vendor may remove the equipment anytime they decide to quit the market.
“By the time the directive was made we were actually at the tail-end of the rectification process, and 500,000 accounts were affected by the technical hitch in December”, said Kawujju.
This was also confirmed by the head of Corporate and Consumer Affairs at ERA, Julius Wandera.
The relaunch of the operation dubbed ‘Komboa’ follows an increase in the level of power losses over the last one year, especially during the lockdown, when enforcement was suspended.
According to Umeme, power losses through theft and illegal connections have risen to more than 17% of the total power supplied, up from the 13% recorded a year ago.
Peter Kaujju, Head of communications at Umeme says they have also reduced the number of days it takes to have a customer connected, from the target of up to 15 days to four working days.
“We have received about 5,300 applications to date of which 2,337 have so far been connected to the grid. We have been able to connect people within a space of four working days even when the regulatory days range between 10 and 15,” he says.
The Umeme Managing Director said he is satisfied that the company has completed all the investment works that were laid out for 2020 on time. This comes as industrialists decry increased power outages which are impacting on their businesses.
Derrick Isabirye, who led a delegation of six family members to pitch camp at Umeme offices in Mukono, says they will not leave until they receive a proper explanation from the power distributors. He says it is unfair for Umeme to disown their relative, yet they have been contracting him to undertake various assignments.
Many people were seen closing their houses and others gathered on roadsides as heavily guarded UMEME officials went knocking door to door. By midday, nine people had been detained at Kawempe police Station having been found at houses that are illegally connected to the national grid.
However Tom Awuzu, the Gulu Region Area Manager for Umeme told the leaders that the problem will still persist because the problems including a single power distribution source, vandalism of electric equipment and harsh weather are beyond their control.
The company lost at least 40 transformers to vandalism in addition to several other electricity supply infrastructure and illegal connections in the first half of 2018 alone. This translated into an estimated annual average loss of 100 billion shillings.