Under 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 onto the power line. However, the project was suspended midterm in 2020 after government ran short of funds before it allowed power distribution companies to resume charging the customers full prices for the connections.
The suspension of the free Electricity
Connection Policy by the government has been identified as one of the push factors for illegal connections and power theft in Masaka sub-region.
According to reports from the power distributor
Umeme Limited, 30.4 per cent of the power supplied to the nine districts of
the greater Masaka sub-region is lost to
illegal connections and unmetered consumption. According to Christine Namutebi, the Umeme
Metering Services Manager, the vice costs the country up to four billion Shillings every year.
In 2018, the government, with a loan obtained
from the World Bank, launched the electricity connection policy, as an intervention to increase smooth
electricity connections by heavily subsidizing connectivity to the customers.
Under 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 national grid. However, the project was suspended midterm in 2020 after the government ran short of funds and allowed power distribution companies to resume charging the
customers the full cost of power connections.
This meant that any domestic consumer who wanted a power connection needed to pay at least 720,883 Shillings, where no pole was required or 2.4 million Shillings where one pole is required, with uninsulated cables, on top
of the 41,300 Shillings in inspection fees.
But many of the culprits of illegal connections apprehended in an ongoing joint operation by police and Umeme
compliance enforcement have blamed the government for hastily suspending the programme before satisfying the underlying
demand for power. The clients argue that some of them
had paid money to Umeme, only to hear that project was suspended before
they could be connected to the line.
Patrick Kakeeto, a welder in Lukaya
Town Council whose connection cable wire was confiscated for consuming unmetered
power, says he had paid his money under the policy but was not connected
which prompted him to hire a private electrician to connect him to the supply line. He said he only improvised after several unsuccessful reminders to
Moses Muwonge, another suspect who
was also disconnected from the grid, blames the government for suspending the
project before meeting the public demand for power, arguing that
many people cannot afford the fees currently charged for connection.
(Luganda)//Cue in; “aba UMEME benyini…
Barbara Kasande, the Umeme Operations Manager for the Masaka Sub-region, confirms that the number of
customers that had applied for power was affected by the suspension of the
program. She however indicates that this cannot be justification for illegal
She insists that their operations
will proceed to curb the current huge power loss resulting from the theft and other related
activities, urging the customers to wait until the government gets money to resume
the project or they incur the current charges to get connected legally.
//Cue in; "along the way…
Cue out; …..various programs.”//
Luganda //Cue in; “kati omwezi...
Cue out: ….tebanaba gasasulira.”//
Records indicate that
about 13,000 customers who had applied for power under free connection policy
did not get covered before the project was suspended.