BUSIA, UGANDA: Hundreds of Busia municipal residents fled their homes on Monday morning during the crackdown on illegal power consumers.
It all started after a team of Umeme officials backed by the police stormed Arubaine, Marachi A, Mbale Kidogo Sofia, Madibira, Nangwe shops, Solo A and Solo C in Eastern and Western divisions to hunt down illegal power consumers.
Several residents abandoned their homes and fled into hiding for fear of arrest. Some of the residents faulted power distributor Umeme for failing to sensitize them against illegal power connections.
Some of them claimed that Umeme field officers help them to connect power to their houses, adding that they cannot differentiate between impersonators and genuine field staff.
George Offiti, a resident of Arubaine village says that he fled from his home after receiving a tip from his friends. Offiti explains that he applied for electricity three years ago in vain, which prompted him to tap power from his neighbor.
Jennifer Nandutu, another resident from Mbale Kidogo village in the Eastern division, says that the enforcement officers from Umeme accused her of transferring her meter box from Mbale to Busia illegally, which prompted her to flee into hiding. The team instead arrested her son.
Emmanuel Ochieng, the Umeme metering service engineer in charge of Eastern region says that the decision by residents to flee their homes has hampered their operation because they cannot do sensitization and address the problem of power theft.
He explained that Umeme loses about 25 percent of the power supplied in Busia district to power theft.
George Elwelu, the police officer attached to Umeme says that they have arrested 20 illegal power consumers and will charge them with fraudulent power connection
The suspects were still in custody at Busia central police station by the time of filling this story.