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Operation on Illegal Power Connections Paralyzes Business in Kumi

During the operation, more than 100 business premises were closed as the owners fled on seeing UMEMEM staff accompanied by the police. At
Closed lockups in Kumi Municipality.

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Businesses in Kumi Municipality came to a standstill on Wednesday during an operation to curb illegal power connections. 

During the operation, more than 100 business premises were closed as the owners fled on seeing UMEMEM staff accompanied by the police. At least 80 people who include tenants and landlords were arrested taken to Mbale.

John Opolot, the chairperson of Kumi main market says that many vendors locked up their businesses for fear of being arrested. He said that the affected lockups include saloons, shops, boutiques and produce shops among others.

Gervas Osele, one of the residents in Kumi municipality says that much as the operation is necessary, most of the people arrested were innocent.

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Richard Ochom, the Mayor of Kumi Municipality blamed Umeme authorities for not involving the local authorities in the operation. He, however, appealed to residents to refrain from illegal connections since it leads to the loss of lives and property.

Ochom asked Umeme to open an office in Kumi to help curb illegal connections.

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Emmanuel Ochen, the metering services engineer for Umeme at Mbale regional office, says that they have recovered 56 service cables on direct supply. Ochen says that the operations will continue to ensure that those who are disconnected don’t reconnect until they seek help from the service provider.

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Umeme recently rolled out an operation dubbed Komboa (Swahili word for redeem), to redeem its network from illegal users and operators. The operation identifies illegal connections, disconnect them, arrests and investigates suspects and take them to courts of law.

The power distributor reported about 98 Billion Shillings loss in Eastern Uganda alone, between January and March this year.