UMEME Loses Over Shs47.3m From Power Line Vandalism

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • November 22, 2022

Officials of the power distribution company, Umeme, in Bunyangabu District have decried the rampant vandalism that has crippled service delivery.

In a statement released by the police in Rwenzori West region last week, five reported cases involved the theft of electricity wires amounting to Shs47.3 million in the district.

The Rwenzori West region police spokesperson, Mr Vincent Twesige, said they have dispatched officers to commence investigations and have suspects arrested.

The network technical engineer of Umeme based in Bunyangabu and Kasese districts, Mr Samson Hasakya, said there are rampant cases of theft of electric wires and conductors of both low and high-voltage power lines.

“We have registered over 30 cases of vandalism,” he said.

He added that in Kahedero, near Lake George in Kasese District, thieves cut down electric poles before stealing the conductors and wires.

Mr Twesige said in one of the cases reported at Rwimi Police Station in Bunyangabu, electricity wires valued at Shs12 million were stolen.

Cutting poles

The chairman of Kadindimo Village in Bunyangabu, Mr George Kamugisha, said three weeks ago, thieves came and cut the wire from the newly-erected poles in Kaina and Karambi villages, but fortunately,  security personnel were able to recover the wires.

“The thieves came and stole our transformer and we spent close to two months without power, but it was replaced. In some places, the wires have been stolen and the company, which was contracted to distribute power, stopped working. We believe the people with electricity knowledge are abating the theft of wires,” he said.

Mr Charles Otim, an official at Modest Associates Company that deals in engineering services, said the works on Kadindmo power line were brought to a halt.

“We have been experiencing many cases of theft of electric equipment, we had to leave the site,” he said, but didn’t state when they would resume operations.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, it is estimated that Shs260 billion was lost due to vandalism in 2021.

The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited  is developing a whistleblower policy that is likely to be passed next month. This will enable it to offer financial rewards to members of the public who offer information leading to arrests of vandals or recovery of stolen materials.