Many of the copper winding, angle and cast irons often stolen from electricity installations, are used by welders and smelters to make saucepans, door handles and casket holders, according to Energy Minister Irene Muloni.
Muloni is concerned that vandals are destroying very expensive and useful infrastructure to smelt products that can be manufactured using cheaper material. She says that the public needs to appreciate that the energy infrastructure for the common good and refrain from activities that impeding the electrification of Uganda.
Her concern reiterated at the ongoing Energy Sector Review meeting in Kampala, comes a few weeks after unknown people vandalized five electricity transmission towers in Mukono causing a national power blackout. The towers which were vandalized connect Nalubaale power dam electricity to Lugogo power station. The government replaced the three towers at a cost of 1.2 billion Shillings.
Muloni wonders how one can cut down such a vital power tower to make just a few saucepans whose cost is far below the 1.2 billion Shillings used to erect them.
Re-echoing Muloni’s call, her deputy Peter Lokeris says the government is taking a blame for persistent power blackouts which however are caused by vandalism.
According to power distributor Umeme, Uganda loses up to 15 billion Shillings every year due to vandalism of power lines and power thefts
Recently the Buganda Road Utilities Court charged an electrician for purportedly vandalizing a transformer belonging to Umeme. The 32-year-old Patrick Wanyama, a resident of Bweyogerere in Wakiso district was charged with tampering with electrical installations contrary to the Electricity Act. The Charge attracts a sentence of a 2 million Shillings fine and or a three year jail sentence.
Meanwhile, Muloni says Uganda’s generated power capacity is now at 978 megawatts, as of June 2018. She says generated capacity will hit the 2,000 megawatt mark ones power projects like Isimba, Karuma and Ayago, amongst other, come on line.