Power distributor Umeme has launched countrywide operation against suspected electricity theft. This follows a rise in energy losses from 16.4% in 2019 to 17.5% 2020.
The increase is attributed to the suspension of drives against illegal connections following the government-imposed lockdown in March through June 2020 to check COVID-19.
Now that the restrictions are eased, Umeme, working with Uganda Police, has resumed the operations to curb power theft dubbed Komboa.
Peter Kaujju, the Head Communications at Umeme while speaking during the launch of Komboa at the Umeme Mutundwe substation said they wanted to redeem their network from illegal users and operators so that customers get safe and quality electricity.
“Anything that touches a life of any Ugandan touches us as a nation. We are however, aware that a number of people die due to illegal connections. Some cases go unreported for fear of prosecution. But it is important for the public to note that vandalism and power theft are a national problem, which amount to an economic crime. Power thieves affect and cause frustration to legitimate customers through power interruptions,” Kaujju said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Ashraf Chemonges, who represented the Inspector General of Police at the launch said the Uganda Police Force has set up an Economic Crimes Desk which will handle cases related to power theft and illegal connections.
“We are tired of people who do not want to use the proper channels and resort to stealing power and also destroy cables by vandalising installations. Most times, such people put them selves and also the general population at a great risk,” he said.
Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson said Umeme is going to lead the operation with support from the Uganda Police .
He cautioned the public against vandalism and power thefts are a national problem, which amounts to an economic crime.
On average, Umeme loses Shs 100 billion annually in power theft and vandalism.