The joke that “You can only live in Katete Mbarara when God is not happy with you” is starting to deepen on Mbarara city dwellers’ lips as the residents in the suburb continue to face an “on and off” electricity predicament.
The challenge has been on for some months but escalated recently with the coming of the rainy season according to UMEME General Manager Eng. Byron Beine is attributed to the winds that have continuously destabilized the electric poles and wires.
“We have had challenges with the Katete power line and yes it’s on and off because we had the Isingiro –Mbarara power line destabilized by the strong winds that came with the rains. However, our teams are on the ground to ensure stability” Byron said.
The UMEME team recently visited the Mbarara area office to ascertain the same challenge the population and business community are facing.
The on-and-off power challenge in Katete has had a toll on the business community, especially dairy product dealers, saloons, and businesses that depend on electricity for record-keeping digitally.
Kakuru Wiliam a dairy milk operator at Royal Fresh Milk in Katete Kampala Mbarara City notes how the building where his dairy is situated has no standby generator and the on-and-off electricity causes a cocktail of challenges.
“We have no standby generator on this building, we use our own generator, fuel is now expensive with a litre costing UGX 5600, this increases our expenditure yet we may not be forced to increase milk price since it’s already high with a litre costing UGX 2400” Kakuru noted.
Kakuru is not alone, Nayebare Shadia operates an ice cream machine that solely depends on electricity 24-7 and notes that “I feel so much pain every time the electricity goes off and delays to return because I lose about UGX 100,000 because when electricity is on, I make close to UGX 100,000 -150,000” but when it is off I make between Shs10, 000- Shs 20,000.”
Humphrey who operates a saloon says since the announcement on 13th September 2023 from UMEME that electricity was to be off from 7 am to midnight, the rest of the days, power became unstable till now.
“Since the other day electricity went off from 7 am to midnight, it has been unstable since then, but it had always been unstable for the previous fortnight, the UMEME guys usually send us messages but for the on-and-off *problem, we don’t see messages” Humphrey narrated.
He adds “I lose money on such days when power is off and when people realize there is no electricity in Katete, they don’t show up even when you have a backup generator” The thirty-one-year-old reveals that on a normal day, he makes about fifty thousand making it a 350000 a week and 1,400,000 but all that depends on power stability.
Katete Kampala is located in Mbarara City south neighbouring villages including; Kitoobero, Kihogo and Kashanyarazi which are all steadily developing with a current population of about 30000 during the day and 25000 people at night that reside in.