Vincent Ssebayinda, a resident of Katungulu village in Bukulula sub-county is one of the thousands of people who failed to secure power connections to their houses when the contractors completed laying the main power infrastructures in 2019 and asked residents to apply for connection from UMEME, but charges frustrated them.
The newly constructed electricity distribution lines passing
through several villages in Kalungu district remain underutilized as targeted beneficiaries decry high connectivity costs.
In 2019, the government through the Rural Electrification Program
laid 167 kilometers of low voltage power lines to extend electricity to ten
parishes in Kalungu district with a target of connecting at least 20,000
households to the national grid.
The intended benefiting parishes are Kasanje, Bwesa, Namagoma,
Kaduggala, Ddada, Kinyerere, Kirowooza, Kibisi, Kitamba and Bbaala.
However, the new electricity lines are having very minimal utilization
in several villages, as residents decry the high connection charges
which they argue cannot be afforded by the majority of rural people.
Vincent Ssebayinda, a resident of Katungulu village in
Bukulula sub-county is one of the thousands of people who failed to secure
power connections to their houses. According to him when the contractors completed
constructing the main power infrastructures in 2019, they asked the residents
to apply for connection from UMEME but charges have since frustrated them.
He indicates that according to the survey by UMEME technicians,
he needs two poles from the main power line to his house and that the process
was costed at 5.86 million shillings which he cannot raise.
Despite having the power lines extended to the proximity of
his home, Ssebayinda says has since given up on seeking the connection until
the costs go down.
Henry Ssentongo a councilor representing Mabuye Parish to
Bukulala sub-county is afraid that government will not get returns on the
huge investment in the area if it does not cut the cost of
He explains that the majority of the people in the rural areas
can hardly afford the cost of putting up single-pole, yet the main lines are largely
rectilinear running along the main roads.
According to UMEME, the cost for domestic power connection
range between 720,883 shillings for consumers with no pole required, to 2.38
million shillings where one pole is needed, with uninsulated cables on top of
41,300 shillings paid as inspection fees.
Ssentongo argues that the cost is not affordable to the residents
in the rural area, which will continue to frustrate the project from meeting its
intended objectives in the area.
(LUGANDA) //Cue in;
“ekizibu kyetulina….//Cue out; ….gakozesa
Benna Nasuuna, the Vice-Chairperson for Bukulula Sub County explains that despite the public excitement
upon the extension of power lines in the area, the residents are now looking at
them as mere decoration because just a very few people have managed to tap onto
Barbara Kasande, the UMEME Operation Manager in charge of the Greater Masaka sub region, says that the cost rose after phasing out the free Electricity Connection Policy-ECP after the government ran short of funds
She, however, indicates that government is aware of the public concern
about the cost of connectivity and that it is now working on securing funds to
support the resumption of providing the free connection.
2018, the government obtained a loan from the World Bank to fund the ECP, as an
intervention to increase smooth electricity connections by heavily subsidizing
the cost of connectivity to the customers.
the free connection policy, a customer that required no pole was asked to pay only
inspection fees, while the one that required one pole would pay 360,000 to be
connected to the power line.
However, the project was suspended midterm in
2020 after the government ran short of funds before it allowed power distribution
companies to resume charging the customers full prices for the connections.