Umeme employees

The Jinja City Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Musoke Kyeyune has urged security agencies to act swiftly against vandals who are disrupting economic activity through vandalism of electricity infrastructure in the industrial city.

Addressing security officers in the region over the weekend, Kyeyune said the vice was causing a major shock to business and scaring away potential investors from Jinja and surrounding areas since power theft causes reliability issues.

“Jinja City, Jinja District and Njeru Municipality are home to the biggest number of industries in the country but the region has been hit hardest by anti-development agents who are stealing public infrastructure especially electricity lines. They are standing in the way of progress. For us to succeed, we need to be a team and work together to avoid the pitfalls such as the one that happened in Namulesa which could have been avoided,” he said.

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Adding, “I am here to sound my support to energy sector players to ensure that we protect these important assets. I hate power theft and I will work with Umeme to make sure it’s curtailed.”

Umeme’s Chief Operations Officer, Florence Nsubuga, while addressing the meeting said they had taken a deliberate to engage with stakeholders across the Country to share about the dangers of power theft and vandalism of the electricity network which is taking some innocent lives and regression of development.

“Vandalism is a huge cost to this Nation. Besides causing network challenges and costing money, we are losing innocent lives. The public should protect these investments because they exist to serve them. We have also deployed technology to bring us closer to the customers through our 24 hour call centre, and the Umeme App where our customers can access all our services. In case of these vandals, please contact us or the Police,” she said.

Adding, “Power theft coupled with COVID and lack of money for free connections has seen an increase in people connecting themselves illegally.”

Umeme’s Rose Oyella, the Head of Regional Operations Kampala East which includes Jinja and Njeru said some of the key issues they discussed with the political chiefs was aggravated power loss and vandalism of Umeme’s infrastructure.

She said they will continue with these engagements with other key stakeholders to educate the masses on how they can connect on to the grid.

Jinja district serves 43,211 customers billing over Shs 1.5 Billion monthly. Of these 789 are commercial customers among which are 226 industries collectively billing Shs 11.3 Billion monthly. Jinja contributes 10 per cent of Umeme’s annual revenues and the region is of strategic importance to the country because of its industries.

Oyella said Jinja is served by three sub stations in Owen Falls Dam, Njeru and Jinja Industrial. However, the region is also one of the highest when it comes to energy losses which stand at 12.2 per cent.

“These losses translate into Shs 2 Billion monthly, Shs 24 Billion annually. This is because we are losing power to power theft and vandalism which affects the network stability,” she said.