UMEME Launches Fight against Power Theft

Celestin Babungi and Florence Nsubuga at the Launch

UMEME has Monday launched a campaign against power theft and vandalism which costs the company over Sh100bn every year.

UMEME’s Managing Director, drug Celestin Babungi told the media at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala that power theft and vandalism are the biggest problems causing Uganda to suffer endless power shutdowns and financial losses to the company.

Babungi says the grim effects of the vices are felt every day through constant power outages, dosage the dangerous power surges and unstable supply, deaths recorded in almost every region and has a great impact on power tariffs.

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“The price of power theft and vandalism is paid every day by innocent Ugandans on behalf of a few deviants,” said Babungi, adding that most of the people that engage in power theft are rich people and factory owners.

The power company’s equipment such as transformers are targeted by vandals, which are dismantled and the oil sold to cosmetics makers, despite according to Babungi, the fact that these oils are very toxic.

In January 2016 alone, UMEME lost over Sh400million to vandalism of its network distribution equipment in Mbale alone. In the same month in Mbale alone, up to 11 transformers, 42 poles and a total of 49,130 conductors were vandalized; costing us up to Sh440m in replacements and repairs.

Babungi remarked that this frustrates and bogs down efforts to refurbish the network for reliable supply, as the money that would be spent in repairing and replacing vandalized equipment would have created a greater customer experience.

Florence Nsubuga, the Chief Operations Officer said at the campaign launch that Umeme has therefore invested greatly in the anti-power theft and vandalism strategy through educating and engaging the public to safeguard the assets that are put in place for their own benefit.

“We have set a period of 30 days calling upon all people, companies and factories that are involved in power theft to report to UMEME offices country wide to be pardoned,” Florence noted.

Florence added that they are engaging legislators to amend the laws of the land for stricter penalties for the culprits of power theft and vandalism.

Other interventions include use of State security services to deter or investigate the causes of the menace, and arresting culprits on site.

“We are testing the process for dry transformers that do not use copper or oil which is a target for the vandals; as well as network modification to relocate transfers from isolated to visible public places.”




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