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New Law: Ugandans Face Shs1bn Fine For Stealing Electricity, Vandalizing Infrastructure

Electricity vandalism is high in Uganda

Ugandans caught stealing electricity or vandalizing infrastructure  will be fined Shs1bn or jailed 15years or both.

This is according to The Electricity Amendment Bill 2022  that was passed by Parliament on Wednesday.

This is after the Attorney General, Kiwanuka Kiryowa  proposed to amend Section 19 of the bill and vary the proposal of 10years jail term and 20,000 currency points (Shs400M) that had been approved by the Committee and have the penalties increased to 15years jail term and fine of 50,000 currency points (Shs1bn) in order to make the penalties deterrent.

“When you are setting up penalty factors like these, anyone trying to vandalise electricity or energy infrastructure should know their likely ending up is in prison,” Kiwanuka said.

He added: “If you give them Shs50,000 and they vandalise 10 transformers, they are capable of paying you. So for us we are telling you, you steal them, if you are not likely to pay Shs1bn, you get 15years. So it is deterrent.”

However, Timothy Batuwa (Jinja South West) described the Attorney General’s proposal as unrealistic, wondering why people who accidentally knock electricity poles while driving should carry same burden as those who steal electricity or destroy transformers.

“This section seeks to punish a person may be by way of driving knocks down an electric pole. So to subject this person to the punishment we have just been discussing here, it is unrealistic,” he said.

Geofrey Ekanya (Tororo County) also rejected Kiryowa’s proposal saying it will instead fuel bribery between police and suspects as they will seek a shortcut to elude the fines imposed.

Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) and Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) said those arrested in such circumstances will have to prove to court that they knocked down the electricity pole accidentally.

 

However, the Attorney General further defended his decision arguing that people involved in electricity theft and infrastructure vandalism are sophisticated people, not ordinary people walking around streets, as the vice requires some level of expertise to pull off the job.

“The people carrying out these activities are extremely sophisticated people it isn’t sustainable that believe that a person will take down a tower line and is just simply an ordinary person walking the streets, these people are sophisticated so we need to deter them from making this a business,” he said.

 

 

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