Chief Justice Bart Katureebe yesterday commissioned the Specialized Utilities, stomach Wildlife and Standards Court.
The court, the first of its kind in Uganda, will be handling cases like electricity and water theft, vandalism of water and power equipment, rare species trafficking, prosecuting dealers in substandard products, defaulters of Utility bills, violators of UCC laws and other related cases.
The Chief Justice opened the court with a stern call to judicial officials to handle cases in the court carefully as they involve huge sums of money.
“I advise all the magistrates in this new court to avoid corruption, but emphasis on research to acquire more knowledge in this field,” he said.
The opening of the court, Katureebe said, is part of Judiciary’s plan to ensure access to justice to all Ugandans.
He also called for wider sensitization of the public on the benefits of compliance and also advised stakeholder companies like UMEME and NWSC to rid themselves of corrupt staff members.
The Utilities Court is housed at the Buganda Road and will be headed by Chief Magistrate Mawanda Eremye, helped by two Grade one magistrates Gladys Kamasanyu and Marion Mangeni.
Mawanda at the launch informed the Chief Justice about some of the challenges the court is likely to face, that must be addressed right away such as increased security considering the magnitude of cases it will be handling.
He however, committed to handle the court diligently, noting that he and his staff have been properly trained.
The Deputy Managing Director UMEME Sam Zimbe applauded the judiciary for setting up the Utility Court, which before its official launch he said, had already been helping them fight power theft.
“With the help of this court power theft cases have decreased from 40% to 19%,” he said. “The major challenge we are currently facing is that the penalties in the Electricity Act 1999 are not tough enough”
Also at the event, the Executive Director of Uganda Communications Commission Godfrey Mutabaazi pointed out that ICT is among the fastest growing fields, which has exposed Uganda to an increased rate of Cyber crime which needs to be addressed in a specialized court.
The Executive Director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) on the other hand promised full support to this court to ensure that offenders are prosecuted and reducing on the counterfeits products in the market.