Minister for Energy, Eng Irene Muloni has condemned “selfish” Ugandans who recently vandalised the electricity transmission infrastructure in Mukono district resulting into a nationwide power blackout.
On the night of September 13, Uganda experienced a sudden widespread power blackout causing an uproar on social media. Electricity went off in Kampala went off in Kampala and other parts of the country at around 9:35pm last Wednesday.
Part of the fury among the public was because the load shedding coincided with the scheduled TV program, Straight Talk Africa on Voice of America where popular opposition politician, Bobi Wine was appearing.
This prompted some to speculate that the blackout was deliberate although UETCL, the government agency responsible for transmitting electricity came out to clarify that the problem was due to vandalism.
Today, Minister Muloni also came out to emphasize that the blackout was caused by what she labelled “unpatriotic Ugandans. She said that atleast 5 towers that carry transmission lines from Jinja to Kampala were brought down at Mbalala in Mukono district.
It is against this background that the Minister has called for stringent punishments in the law against those found to be culpable of vandalizing electricity infrastructure.
“This route transmits 150MWs, so, by 5 towers being disabled these are 150 megawatts. Can you imagine the selfishness of some Ugandans? This asset is for all of us as Ugandans. So, because you are selfish, you choose to punish all of us,” the Minister said.
She said that cutting off current as much as 150MWs at a peak time at one go destabilized the system causing the mass blackout.
“I really apologize to the public because it is my sector that ensures there is reliable power supply throughout”.
She appealed to the media to sensitize the public to be patriotic and safeguard the infrastructure put in place by the government. Eng Muloni also asked the public to report such cases.
“It’s a shame how you can cut this infrastructure. You are not punishing me or the President. You are punishing all Ugandans”.
Explaining the magnitude of the problem of vandalism, Eng Muloni told reporters that government loses a sum of Shs 1.5 billion every year in acts of vandalism of electricity infrastructure.
She partly attributed vandalism to the demand for metal scrap as a source of income which she said is illegal.
“Police is hunting these detractors and once caught, they will be brought to book. We also want to amend the law so that we introduce punitive measures. The current law is too lenient,” she said.
She noted that the current penalties provided by the law are not equivalent to the suffering that Ugandans endure during the eventual load shedding.