Uganda's main electricity distribution company, Umeme has decried the
rampant vandalism of power equipment in the Tooro region.
The Managing Director Umeme Celestino Babungi says that the company
has lost transformers, transmission cables, poles and pylons to unscrupulous
Speaking in Fort Portal on Friday at the commissioning of the new Umeme Service
Centre, Babungi said that Umeme is spending at least 7 billion shillings annually
in the region to repair or replace vandalized equipment.
Babungi also said vandalism of properties is still one of the
major challenges the company is facing since it hinders power distribution in
the region. He asked the community leaders to
fully support efforts to fight thefts by reporting all persons tampering with
the lines in their areas.
//Cue in … “it is not about Umeme.
Cue out: and a few have been affected”//.
Babungi said that the Power distributor has embarked on a campaign
to combat rampant power theft and vandalising of power infrastructure.
Currently, Umeme is registering a growth of over 3,000 customers
every year onto the electricity grid in Fort Portal City.
The City used to rely on the power from Kasese but following
the construction of the Kanyambaho transmission line, it has improved the reliability
of power in the area.
There are also new generation plants that have been developed. They
include one in Mahoma in Bunyangabu district, Kagadi and Bundibugyo district, which all feed into the
Last year, Umeme decried weak legislation as a major impediment
towards fighting power theft and vandalism in the country. They argue
that the available law does not provide stringent punishments to culprits of
power theft or vandalism to equipment from the network, despite the huge losses
the habits cause to the company and the country at large.
The Electricity Act gives a maximum penalty of two million Shillings in fines
or a three-year jail sentence to offenders convicted of power theft and illegal
connection. Below the maximum, the law provides for lighter sentences of
caution and community service to the culprits of offences related to
Such punishments are too weak to stop the widespread power thefts
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.