Uganda News

Hundreds of people have fled their homes in Busia due to unauthorized power connections

Some of them reported that Umeme field personnel assist them in connecting power to their homes, but that they are unable to distinguish between imposters and actual field staff.

Hundreds of Busia residents were forced to flee their homes early Monday morning as part of a crackdown on illicit power users.

It all began when a team of Umeme officials along by police raided Arubaine, Marachi A, Mbale Kidogo Sofia, Madibira, Nangwe stores, Solo A and Solo C in the Eastern and Western divisions in search of illicit power consumers.

For fear of being arrested, a number of residents abandoned their homes and fled into hiding. Residents chastised electricity distributor Umeme for neglecting to educate them about the dangers of illicit power connections.

Some of them reported that Umeme field personnel assist them in connecting power to their homes, but that they are unable to distinguish between imposters and actual field staff.

According to George Offiti, a resident of Arubaine village, he escaped his home after receiving information from his friends. Offiti reveals that he asked for electricity three years ago but was denied, prompting him to use his neighbor’s power.

Another resident of Mbale Kidogo village in the Eastern division, Jennifer Nandutu, claims that Umeme enforcement officers accused her of unlawfully shifting her meter box from Mbale to Busia, prompting her to escape into hiding. Instead, her son was apprehended by the team.

The decision by locals to quit their houses, according to Emmanuel Ochieng, the Umeme metering service engineer in charge of the Eastern area, has impacted their operations because they are unable to conduct sensitization and address the problem of power theft.

He explained that power theft costs Umeme around 25% of the power it supplies in the Busia district.

According to George Elwelu, a police officer assigned to Umeme, 20 unlawful power consumers have been apprehended and will be charged with fraudulent electricity connections.

By the time this story was written, the suspects were still being held in the Busia central police station.

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