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Umeme fails to block Mutasiga Coffee Factory from picking sh179 million

Fire happened after transformer replacement

Luwero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Power distributor Umeme has lost an application to block Irene Nankabirwa, the proprietor of Mutasiga Coffee Factory, from drawing money from its bank account.

Umeme had sought to stay the implementation of garnishee orders issued to Nankabirwa to recover Shillings 179.3 million as costs of damages to her coffee plant resulting from the negligence of the power firm.

Trouble for Umeme started when a fire gutted Mutasiga Coffee Factory in Semuto in Luwero district on February 14th, 2016. This came just four days after Umeme had installed a new transformer at the factory to offload the village transformer.

Nankabirwa blamed the fire on Umeme’s negligence. She accused the company of poorly terminating the service cables, leaving uninsulated wires, using unqualified personnel to do wiring work, failing to properly supervise or inspect work and failing to adhere to statutory service and construction standards.

She sued the power firm for negligence. Justice Musa Ssekaana heard and determined the matter in Nankabirwa’s favour and awarded her damages and costs of the suit worth Shillings 179.3million. Dissatisfied with the decision, Umeme filed an appeal in 2020 insisting that there was no case of negligence on its side.

However, before the appeal could be determined, Nankabirwa told the High court Civil Division that the company had declined to pay the money as directed and sought garnishee orders to recover the money from the company’s Citibank account to restore her coffee factory. As a result, the court directed Nankabirwa to attach Umeme’s Citibank account.

This prompted Umeme to file another application in 2021 asking the court to stop the execution of orders awarding Nankabirwa damages and costs of the suit. In its application, Umeme argued that it would suffer irreparable damage and substantial loss should its appeal succeed when Nankabirwa has taken the money, adding that the means of recovering such monies from the applicant are minimal and almost non-existent.

However, Justice Musa Ssekaana has dismissed the application with costs, saying that the execution of the decree in the matter would not inflict any serious loss to Umeme. He also argued that what Umeme is terming as a loss, is an entitlement to Nankabirwa as a successful party before the court.

Justice Ssekaana noted that there seems to be common thinking among litigants that the court can grant a stay of every decree as an automatic right, which is wrong. “While exercising the discretion conferred under the law of stay of execution, the court should duly consider that a party who has obtained a lawful decree/order is not deprived of the fruits of that decree except for good and cogent reasons,” ruled Justice Ssekaana.



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