UMEME say Museveni meet with stakeholders will determine fate of their concession

Kenneth Kazibwe

Kenneth Kazibwe

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Patrick Bitature, the chairman board of directors at UMEME has said the fate of the power distribution company will be determined through a meeting between President Museveni and a number of stakeholders including UMEME.

In March, Museveni wrote to the Energy Minister Irene Muloni complaining about the continued exorbitant power prices by South African based company UMEME limited before warning her against renewing their concession.

However, on Thursday, Bitature said the company officials met the president and discussed the circumstances surrounding the matter.

“All he wanted were facts and not hearsay .We availed to him everything including the audits. He however said he wanted to call all the stakeholders for a meeting in which he too would be involved to come up with the solution,”Bitature told journalists on Thursday.

Bitature however noted that the company is now engaging technical people both in the finance ministry and their counterparts from energy to work on the modalities and also bring Electricity Regulatory Authority on board, the body he said knows well how they come up with the tariffs.

He added that the South African company would attend the meeting and explain themselves out on how the tariffs for power are arrived at.

“We still have seven years on our concession and we could choose not to engage if we want to but that would be irresponsible, selfish and greed. We want to make sure we are completely aligned with the government.”

Bitature added, “the issue of our concession is going to be addressed as an outcome of the discussion we have but not someone just saying go in or go out.”

The UMEME board chairperson however said even if the company’s concession is not renewed, the successors will have the job of collecting money from customers, investing in infrastructure and would want a return.

“No one is going to do it for free. Government can do it and looks like it is for free but it’s the tax payer who has to pick up the bill,”Bitature said.

He applauded government for its efforts to heavily invest in power generation through the Karuma and Isimba power projects, a thing he said would greatly help to reduce power tariffs.

According to Bitature, UMEME will be preparing to invest in evacuation of power from the two dams as one of the ways to help reduce tariffs in the future.

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