The Police and Umeme enforcement teams in Masaka City on Thursday spent
the better part of the day in running battles with residents over illegal power
The operation dubbed “Komboa” begun from Nyendo Township, a suburb
in Masaka city. It was characterized by scenes of resistance and verbal
altercations between the enforcement teams and culprits, who accused Umeme of
being the accomplices in
procuring illegal connections in the area.
Komboa is Swahili for ‘Redeem’, and in Umeme’s case, the operation
is aimed at redeeming the network from illegal users and operators, and will
involve identifying illegal connections, disconnecting them, arresting and
prosecuting the culprits.
Fraouk Tusabe and Paul Mugerwa, both residents of Market Cells in the
Nyendo-Mukungwe division who evaded arrest argue that many people in the area
cannot afford the cost of power hence resorting to taping onto the power
They argued that such operations can
hardly solve the problem of power theft. They challenged the suppliers to
instead consider a reduction on the tariffs to make it affordable to the
(Luganda) “kubanga ekikwekeeto…..
Cue out; ….tetulina
In many areas, residents abandoned their homes in fear of arrest, but the
enforcement teams went ahead to recover the connection equipment including meters.
Christine Namutebi, the Metering Services Manager at UMEME,
indicates that they are on a countrywide operation to reduce the power losses
through unscrupulous customers.
According to Namutebi, their assessment teams identified the
greater Masaka sub-region as one of the areas that post the high figures of
power loss to a tune of 4 Billion Shillings.
//Cue in; “omuze guno….
Cue out: …okusasula n’otereeza.”//
On UMEME staff accused of being accomplices to the theft; Namutebi
indicates that their teams are carrying continuous investigations about the
Isaac Katewanga, the UMEME Western Region Manager indicates that besides fighting
theft, they also intend to use the operation to check on dangerous electricity
connections in the area for purposes of eliminating fatalities related to
//Cue in: “not anywhere…
Cue out; ….meat every day.”//
The current Electricity Act gives a maximum penalty of two million shillings in
fine or three-year jail sentence to offenders convicted of power theft and
illegal connection. Below the maximum the law providers for lighter sentences
of caution and community services to culprits of offences related to
However, the current law is undergoing review by stakeholders, with proposals
of making it more punitive to offenders.