Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Most businesses operating in Nansana Municipality in Wakiso district are tempering with Yaka meters.
This was exposed on Saturday during an abrupt door to door operation dubbed komboa, by Umeme. It is meant to crack down on power theft in the area.
Eng. John Baptist Nuwamanya, metering services manager at Umeme who led the operation says they have found out that many clients had added several components to their Yaka meters enabling them to utilize electricity without pre-loading tokens.
Nuwamanya adds that Umeme realized that there was something wrong after notifying a sudden decrease in units bought by clients in the area.
He explains that from their Yaka monitoring system, they had seen that most customers who used to pre-load 60 units had changed and started loading less than 10 units in a month.
In addition to that, some other clients had got a second direct connection. At Win Bet, Nansana branch, it was found out that they had installed two connections but utilizing the illegal connection and putting on the legal one once in a while to hoodwink Umeme officials.
Some business operators including supermarkets, rentals and lock up were as well found to be illegally connected by underground cables which were uprooted during the operation.
However, residents and business operators claim that most of the said illegal connections had been done by Umeme officials.
Musa Kasagga, a shop operator says he was surprised to be told that he had been illegally connected on the grid and also possessed a stolen meter yet he had all the documents.
“I have the entire documents, I applied for this electricity through Umeme offices in Nankulabye,” Kassagga said as he was being arrested by security officers.
However, Nuwamanya explains that at times some clients apply for electricity but then become impatient and bribe some Umeme workers to connect power in their premises.
According to records, Umeme loses over 30 percent of the electricity distributed in the Nankulabye district which amounts to eight billion shillings per year.
Operation komboa which has so far been conducted in Kampala East and North has seen the arrest of over 1,000 suspected power thieves.
Over the years, Umeme has been decrying weak legislation as a major impediment towards fighting power theft in the country leading the company into losses. Records indicate that power theft and vandalism are responsible for an annual average loss of 100 billion shillings.