As a result, Umeme officials led by Duncan Mwesigwa, the Masaka branch manager convened a crisis meeting with residents to discuss power theft. During the meeting, Mwesigwa claimed that majority of the residents in the area consume unmetered power.
Masaka residents have disagreed with a decision by police and Umeme to conduct impromptu operations to crack down on power thieves. On Monday, police and Umeme officials convened a crisis meeting at Kidda trading center in Buwunga Sub County to discuss the rampant theft. The meeting was prompted by protests from residents after Umeme removed the transformer from Kidda trading center as a result of power thefts plunging the area into a total blackout.
Residents attempted to match to Umeme offices leading to clashes with police. Two elderly women including Pelagiya Namatovu, the mother of Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja and Mary Nanyonga were injured in the clashes. They were rushed to Kitovu hospital where they received treatment and were discharged. As a result, Umeme officials led by Duncan Mwesigwa, the Masaka branch manager convened a crisis meeting with residents to discuss power theft. During the meeting, Mwesigwa claimed that majority of the residents in the area consume unmetered power.
Umeme estimates that 37% of the power supplied to Masaka is lost through illegal connections. In the meeting, Police ordered to restore power supply. However, they agreed to carry out joint impromptu night operations to stop the power theft. Isaac Mugume, the UMEME Commercial officer Masaka branch says they agreed to intensify night operations at night to deal with power thieves. He says although some umeme officials have been moving alone in this operation, they are now involving police.
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John Mwaule, the Masaka District Police Commander insists Umeme must notify police and community leaders before any operation is conducted warning that, thugs could take advantage of the operation to rob residents. Some residents have admitted to power theft, but blame it on the exorbitant cost. Some of the residents especially those involved in milling claim they spend most of their capital on power bills.
Ali Maddi a trader, in Kidda trading center explains that even when he switches off all his gadgets at night, Umeme still sends him exorbitant bills. He explains that in June Umeme gave him a bill of one hundred thousand shillings, which forced him to cut down on his consumption with the hope that he would cut down his costs in vain as he received a bill of 150,000shillings.
Maddi says with fraud in meter billings, he cannot afford but to create a meter bypass to minimize the costs. Rose Namuli, a bar owner in Kidda trading center wonders why power is too expense yet it is generated from Uganda. She says if Umeme doesn’t want power to be stolen, they should reduce it by 50%.