Gulu district chairman, Ojara Martin Mapenduzi has hit back at his critics who accused him of being a coward when he snubbed a recent demonstration in which residents of Gulu town were protesting the persistent power cuts by electricity distributor, Umeme.
On Monday this week, Police blocked hundreds of local residents in Gulu town who were staging a protest, decrying the continued power blackouts that have affected business in the Northern Uganda town in recent weeks.
Those engaged in businesses claim the power cuts have frustrated their operations, particularly for those that can not afford to buy generators.
However, some of the people who participated in the protest criticized the District Chairperson, Mapenduzi and a few other local leaders for absconding a cause that they considered so pertinent to the district. Members of Parliament Odonga Otto and Gilbert Olanya who represent Aruu county and Kilak county respectively were part of the protest.
Now, Mapenduzi has come out to respond to his critics by explaining his contribution towards ending the electricity crisis in Gulu.
“Different leaders have different approaches and intentions, and it’s not the best to assume that someone is a coward or bribed when you don’t see him joining you in a demonstration,” Mapenduzi said in a post on his Facebook account.
He denied being a coward and went ahead to expound the steps he has taken to have the problem rectified.
“As Chairman, I have been doing everything within my power to compel the responsible offices/agencies to address our problem. I have been to the Ministry of Energy four times and have met UMEME leadership, the Chairman of Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) together with the ERA ED in their office in Kampala over the same matter,” the district chairperson said.
He further cited a meeting in 2017 which he summoned and engaged Umeme’s top leadership over the issue of inconsistent power supply in Gulu. His same efforts, he said, had seen officials from Umeme’s Kampala office attend a council meeting in Gulu in which twelve key resolutions were made, four of which have so far been implemented.
The district leader added that he has met with officials who are implementing the Aswa Power Plant to discuss among other things the progress of the project and issues to do with participation of locals.
Regarding the allegations that he was compromised by Umeme through bribery, Mapenduxi termed these claims as “myopic” and “below the belt”. He attributes these accusations to attention seekers and “political schemers who think they can use the bad situation to their advantage”.
He says he owns an FM radio (Choice FM) in Gulu which pays at least Shs 500,000 monthly in electricity bills and has equally been affected by the unsteady power supply.
“Our business (radio) pays UMEME at least Shs 500,000 monthly and the constant power blackouts have made us lose so much money. Can that alleged bribery pay back what we have lost? Is that bribery talk equivalent to what our people have lost?” he wondered.