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Bush Fires Costing Electricity Cooperative Society Millions in Electric Pole Maintenance

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The PACMECs General Manager Isaac Odong says since the onset of the dry season in October last year the wild bushfires fires have caused unprecedented damage to electricity infrastructure, mainly electric poles and transmission wires.
An electric pole hanging after being burnt by wild bushfires along Mucwini Madi Opei road in Kitgum Photo By Dan M Komakech (2)

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The rampant bush fires in the Acholi sub-region have cost Pader Abim Community Multi-Purpose Electricity Cooperatives Society Limited (PACMECs) millions of shillings in replacement and maintenance of electric poles.

PACMECs is responsible for distributions and sale of electricity in the Northern Service Territory power lines, off the Lira - Kitgum transmission line to Kotido through, Pader, Agago and Abim; from Rackoko through Awere to Omoro district; off Acholi Bur to Gulu district and from Kitgum to Lamwo and Karenga districts.

The PACMECs General Manager Isaac Odong says since the onset of the dry season in October last year the wild bushfires fires have caused unprecedented damage to electricity infrastructure, mainly electric poles and transmission wires. He explains that they have so far lost at least 18 electricity poles to bushfires in their areas of operations with more still at risk.

Odongo says the society is incurring high maintenance costs on wildfire-related damage on their transmission lines particularly in replacement of those burnt by wild bush fires and maintaining other poles prone to wildfires during the dry season.

He says pole weeding as a measure to curtail the effects of bush fires on electric installations is always valued at a rate of 1,500 shillings per pole, and for the over 10,000 poles under their jurisdiction would translate to hundreds of millions of shillings.

//Cue in: “we have poles……

Cue out: …..not little money”//

Simon Ojok Odoch, the PACMECs board Chairperson says wildfires have always resulted in inconsistent power supply that has crippled several businesses that rely on electricity in most of the trading centers and towns.

According to Odoch, bushfires are always caused due to the bad act exhibited by communities where individuals set fire while hunting, opening land for cultivation and for stimulating fresh pasture grass growth for livestock. In some instances high winds can blow nearby trees and their branches into power lines, sparking fires.

//Cue in: “now enoni……

Cue out: …..to PACMECS”//

Odoch says apart from replacement and maintenance, the cooperatives society has embarked on an aggressive right-of-way work to keep vegetation away from power lines by clearing trees branches and bushes that are under and alongside power lines, and sensitization to curb the practice of bush burning.

Rachel Akanyo, a businesswoman operating in computer secretarial services in Palabek Gem Sub County, Lamwo district says that power blackouts caused by bushfires have cost both them as customers and the society.

She expressed worry that businesses that rely on electricity will continue to suffer and wants the company to adopt the use of metallic and concrete poles since wooden poles are unable to withstand bushfires.

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