Arua, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents in West Nile are angered by the extension of the deadline for connecting their sub-region to the national grid.
Previously, the government had set September 30, 2022, as the deadline for connecting the sub-region to the national grid, but it has now been postponed to March next year due to incomplete works on the transmission lines and power substations.
The residents who include the business community and local leaders raised their concerns to the Parliament’s Environment and Natural Resource Committee on Wednesday during a public hearing at Muni University in Arua city.
According to residents, the matter of connecting the region to the National grid has been long overdue amidst sporadic power outages. They further argued that the continuous extension of the evacuation of electricity via a 132 KV transmission line has cost their businesses and the development of the sub-region.
Moses Obeta, the Arua business community chairperson says the delay to connect the sub-region to industrially stable power has made several factories close due to the erratic supply.
Dr. Paul Onzubo, the district health officer of Maracha says unreliable power has greatly affected the quality of health care and urged government to fast-track the grid extension to avoid more people losing their lives in hospitals due to power blackouts.
Sam Wadri Nyakua, the mayor of Arua city expressed fears that the failure by the government to stick to the deadline of connecting the region to the grid could cost support for the NRM party in subsequent elections.
However, Dr. Emmauel Otaala, the committee chairperson blamed the extension of the deadline to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said greatly affected the works. He however called for calm, noting that government is committed in ensuring the region gets reliable power supply to spur social economic transformation.
The visit by parliaments Environment and Natural Resource Committee comes just a few days after parliament on Thursday, 11 August 2022 adopted a motion urging government to immediately address the electricity supply challenges in the West Nile region.
The motion followed a petition to the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, by a citizens’ coalition code named “The Citizens Action for Improved Public Service Delivery in West Nile” (CAIPS) over intermittent electricity supply in the sub-region.
In 2020, government contracted KEC International Limited (India) and a joint venture of AVIC International Holding Corporation and Central Southern China Electric Power design Insitute Company Limited to undertake the grid extension project. According to Hiranmoy Talukdar, the consultant of the project, the overall progress of the works is at 67-percent.
West Nile region has for long been grappling with unreliable electricity supplied by the West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECO).