Uganda’s main electricity distribution utility, Umeme, has reported a Shs98 billion (roughly $27 million) loss through power theft.
Umeme says it has lost Shs98b in Jinja Sub-region, between January and March 2021. According to the demarcation of Umeme service centres, Jinja Sub-region, which also includes Lugazi and Kayunga, is under the Kampala East region.
John Baptist Nuwamanya, the metering sales manager at Umeme, said during the same period, the country lost 191 million units or about 18% of all the energy Umeme procures from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), which translates into a loss of Shs97.7 billion.
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“Jinja Sub-region, between January and March, lost 15.4 million units to power theft which translates into Shs8,” stated Nuwamanya.
He added: “Umeme cannot fight this vice of power theft on its own but requires the entire citizenry. Power theft is closely linked to illegal connections that are not executed to standard and pose a risk of electrocution to the general public.”
The top service centres where energy theft is prominent in the greater Kampala Region are Nateete, Banda, Najjanankumbi, Wandegeya, Nakulabye and Jinja while outside or Greater Kampala includes Bombo, Mbale, Masaka and Mityana.
“Power thieves affect and cause frustration to our legitimate customers through prolonged power outages,” said Stephen Ilungole, the Umeme public and media relations manager.
For that reason, Umeme recently rolled out an operation dubbed Komboa (Swahili for redeem), which in Umeme’s case is to redeem its network from illegal users and operators.
The operation, which will go on until December 2021, will identify illegal connections, disconnect them, arrest and investigate suspects and present them in the courts of law.
In Bugembe Town Council, Jinja City, where the operation has already begun, more than 100 people were arrested.