Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 900 million Shillings has been lost by the UMEME due to power outages in Northern Uganda in a space of eight months.
The northern Uganda towns of Gulu, Lira, and Kitgum, among others, have faced dire power outages in the recent past, mainly as a result of bush burning and vandalism. The notable affected areas by bush fire includes Lira town, Puranga, Agweng in Lira district and Ibuje in Apac district among others.
Isaac Odong, a resident of Puranga trading Centre in Pader district said locals often burn bushes to clear their hunting grounds for edible rats, while others burn swampy areas to clear their fishing ground among others. He said bush burning is often very rampant during dry seasons.
UMEME Customer Service Engineer for Northern Uganda Wilfred Kaweesa said bush burning accounts up to 60 percent of the outages in the region. According to Kaweesa, they have so far lost about 15 poles due to bush burning in the area, resulting in 300 hours of electricity power outages in just eight months.
Kaweesa said that as a quick way to save the poles from destruction UMEME installed fire fabric on about 218 poles in the area but it has since been vandalized and only one left in Puranga Sub County along Lira-Pader road. Fire fabric is a plastic carpet which is always wrapped around the pole to protect it from being burnt.
UMEME Media Relations Manager Stephen IIlungole said that they have embarked on community sensitization against bush burning, in order to save the power transmission infrastructure, secure lives and reduce losses to the company.
UMEME engineers have started conducting on spot inspections on the affected poles to assess the amount of destruction so far caused by the bush fire on their facilities.