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Umeme halts operations on illegal power connections over complaints of brutality

Operation to curb power theft in Masaka has temporarily been halted (Photo/Courtesy)

MASAKA, UGANDA: Electricity distribution company Umeme, has suspended its operations against illegal connections in Masaka following complaints of brutality.

The operation dubbed ‘Komboa’ was rolled out across the country to reduce the levels of power loss which currently stands at 17.5%.

The operation begun in 2019, and has since had hundreds of people arrested and penalized for consuming unmetered electricity for various purposes.

Florence Nsubuga, the Chief Operations Officer at Umeme, says they have halted the operation to carry out assessments due to public complaints of high-handedness that have been brought against their field enforcement teams.

Speaking to leaders from the greater Masaka sub-region in a stakeholders meeting on Monday, Nsubuga indicated that they have registered a lot of complaints of people decrying how the operation was being conducted, which is worsening their relationship with the power consumers.

She adds that all their communication channels are currently open to all kinds of feedback from the community, to enable the company to improve the way its services are offered and how similar operations can be better done.

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She however indicates that they are going to reform the operation and resume any time soon. Nsubuga cautioned the public against using the suspension as a window to continue with illegal connections.

Isaac Katewanga, the Umeme manager in charge of the Western region indicates that in the meantime, their teams are going to engage with leaders at all levels to enable them to discourage the vices of power theft in their communities.

He explains that besides the commercial losses the country suffers to illegal connection and vandalism of infrastructure and equipment, the country is also losing a high number of people who are electrocuted, a trend they need to reverse with immediate effect.

Mathias Mpuuga, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament and MP for Nyendo-Mukungwe division in Masaka City, blamed Umeme for carrying out an operation without involving the local leaders. According to Mpuuga, the operation has been turned into an expedition to extort money from communities under the guise of recovering the losses.

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He challenged Umeme to provide accountability for the money so far recovered in the operation.


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