KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, has directed the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to inquire into allegations of unlawful conduct by Umeme officials.
Among’s directive follows MPs’ outcry about the conduct of Umeme officials who they accuse of torturing people, extorting money, and carrying out illegal connections.
Kinkizi County West MP, James Niringiyimana, said Umeme was in connivance with police officers and were arresting people and prosecuting them illegally.
“On the 12th of September, I happened to have gone to Jinja Road Police Station. One person in my area was arrested over electricity-related matters but to my surprise, these Umeme people had been given powers to arrest and prosecute,” said Niringiyimana.
Seth Wambede, Mbale Northern Division MP described an ordeal, a member of the clergy in his constituency went through at the hands of Umeme officials.
“Three weeks ago, I was called by my parish priest over an electricity connection issue. They [Umeme] arrested him; put him on a pickup and took him to Mbale,” he narrated, adding that “they didn’t go to the police station but made him sit in a forest somewhere and took whatever they managed to get from him and went away.”
He said the officials ignored his plea for the matter to be solved amicably.
MPs said Umeme had ceased to operate as a service provider and its operations in Uganda needed to be terminated.
Buhweju West County MP, Ephraim Biraaro, said he was dissatisfied with the way Umeme treats its clients and accused them of ignoring his complaints.
“I have often moved to their Ishaka office but they give no attention to anyone. I moved my case to Kampala thinking it would be solved but there is also no attention. Umeme is not a service provider; it is a beast within us,” Biraaro said.
Legislators scoffed at an attempt by the State Minister for Energy, Okaasai Sidronius Opolot to defend Umeme officials and instead advised him to consult further on Umeme operations.
Okasaai in his statement to Parliament said Umeme officials were acting professionally and that citizens were instead in error for stealing electricity.
Among ruled that such actions including extortion of money were criminal offenses that attract an inquiry and charged COSASE to kick-start the investigations. She asked the committee to carry out the probe and report to the House on the actions that have been taken on the reported illegal actions of Umeme.