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Electricity cooperative society offices closed over persistent power outage

An electricity Line in Kitgum Municipality.

Lamwo, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  Palabek Kal Sub County leaders in Lamwo District have closed down offices of Pader- Abim Community Multi-Purpose Electric Co-operative Society Limited [PACMECS].

This follows protests staged on Friday by more than 200 local businessmen and residents who accused the cooperative society of failing to ensure stable electricity in the area.

Geoffrey Nyeko, the Palabek Kal Sub-County Chairperson says the area has not had electricity for the past two months without any PACMEC officials giving explanations about the cause of the power outage.

Nyeko notes that the decision to close down PACMECS offices was to fulfill demands of the aggrieved electricity users who were turning rowdy seeking for solutions to the power outage. 

The keys to the offices have been handed over to the Police at Palabek Kal police post according to Nyeko.

“The power challenge in Palabek Kal has reached an alarming level, locals are continuing to pay service fee despite not using power. There has not been power in our area for the past two months,” Nyeko told Uganda Radio Network in an interview Monday.

Bosco Ocaya, one of the businessmen in Palabek Kal Sub County who operates a Computer centre says he has been relying on a generator to run his workstation due to power blackout. 

Ocaya says the cooperative society has been very unreliable in their operation citing incidences where a power consumer has to take more than two days to receive electricity units after paying power bills.

He added that despite the persistent power blackout, PACMECS officials had been collecting monthly service fee of shillings 3,700 from those connected on the power grid. 

Ocaya says they are now tired of the cooperative society and demands government to introduce a new company to manage electricity distribution to residents in rural areas.

Simon Ojok Odoch, the PACMECS Board Chairperson attributed the irregular power supply to the malfunctioning of one of the auto circuit recloser breaker device at Kitgum UMEME Substation.

He says the device blew up and affected the entire Lamwo District and the sub-counties of Mucwini and Kitgum Matidi in Kitgum districts.

Odoch says although they had written to Rural Electricity Agency and Electricity Regulatory Authority to intervene, fixing the problem took a while because of the lockdown measures.

Odoch says a new auto recloser circuit breaker was fixed over the weekend adding that the district power woes have been fixed. 

He, however, condemned the approach taken to close down their offices citing that the businessmen and sub-county leaders had no legal right to shut down their operations adding that they will follow up the matter. 

James Nabinson Kidega, the Lamwo Resident District Commissioner says his office will investigate the matter.

In Agago district, similar persistent electricity outage sparked uproar against PACMECS officials in September last year after businessmen complained of losing out businesses. 

Pader-Abim Multipurpose Electric Cooperative Society Ltd is responsible for distributing electricity to Pader, Lamwo, Kitgum, Abim districts and parts of Omoro and Gulu districts.  Power consumers pay subsidized rates under the project funded by the African Development Bank, the European Union and German State development bank; KfW.  

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