Vandalism, Theft to Delay Commissioning of Power Transmission Lines – UETCL Officials

Vandalism and theft of electrical equipment might delay the commissioning of new power transmission lines in the country, physician said Mr. Kenneth Otim the Senior Public Relations Officer, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL).

Mr. Otim said that angle nuts, stay earth wires and galvanised angle bars for the power pylons (towers) are being cut and stolen by unknown thugs across the country causing power blackout in various regions of the country. This, he said might delay commissioning of the power transmission lines and increase the project costs.

“On Saturday, 28th January, 2017 at 15.00 hrs, a tower along the new Tororo-Opuyo-Lira 132kV power transmission line was vandalized at Nyirikit village between Tororo and Mbale district causing a power blackout in the eastern parts of the country,” said Mr. Otim.

“The vandalised tower on the new steel tower line being constructed collapsed on the old Tororo-Opuyo-Lira wooden 132kV line that runs parallel affecting three wooden pole structures. However, UETCL maintenance engineering teams are working overtime to restore power supply in the shortest time possible” he added.

Otim said that vandalism of steel tower structures compromises the strength of the towers, putting the transmission line at risk of collapsing. He said that unless something is done to stop these vices, the ongoing power transmission projects could stall despite efforts to ensure power is connected onto the national grid by 2018.

Construction of the affected Tororo- Opuyo-Lira power transmission line project is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the resettlement action plan by the Government of Uganda (GoU) through its implementing agency the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL). The 260km power line project is intended to realise power efficiency, reliability and stability in the north-east region and boost economic growth in the project areas.

New power transmission projects that risk delay to commission due to vandalism include; the Bujagali-Tororo (Uganda)-Lessos (Kenya) 220kV, Kawanda-Masaka 220kV, Mbarara-Nkenda 132kV, Mbarara-Mirama (Uganda)-Birembo (Rwanda) 220kV and Nkenda-Fortportal –Hoima 220kV transmission lines. The projects are intended to improve access to electricity in Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) countries through increased cross border sharing of energy and power, reinforcing the capacity of transmission lines to cater for the increasing power demand and evacuate power from the proposed generation sites.

Mr. Otim said that theft of transmission wires and towers is also common on the Nalubaale-Lugogo, Nalubaale-Kampala North and Nalubale-Tororo-Lessos 132kV lines. These lines traverse areas that include Mabira forest, Lugazi sugar plantation in Buikwe district and Kakira sugar plantations, Kibimba rice, Busitema forests respectively.

He says that vandalism of steel towers and theft of electrical equipment (wires and transformer oil) has cost the transmission company billions of shillings in maintenance costs, revenue to the country, affected efficient and reliable power supply and may cause death to persons living near these power lines and a power  blackout in the country if not stopped.

“These negative developments have emerged at a time when the transmission company is about to start commissioning of the power line projects across the country. The company intends to double the current transmission network. There is a need for concerted effort from stakeholders to join hand with the government in fighting the scourge of electricity installation from being vandalised in the country. Every community benefits from a reliable and efficient power supply and it’s therefore every citizen duty to jealously guard and protect the installations” he said.

Otim says that the power sector cannot give the desired result neither can it impact positively on Ugandans if vandals continue to steal these installed facilities. It’s every citizen duty to protect, guard these national assets and report any suspected vandals to enable the company to dispatch and transmit quality and reliable power supply and have a steady economic development.


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