Thugs vandalize Electrical Equipment worth UGX18m in Kitgum

Vandalism of electrical installations by unknown people is frustrating government’s efforts to extend electricity to rural communities in Kitgum District.

This follows reports from Ceylex Engineering [Pvt] Ltd, a firm subcontracted by Rural Electrification Agency [REA] to install power lines in Kitgum District that several turnbuckles had been stolen from their power lines. Turnbuckles are used for adjusting the tension of cables and providing stability for electricity poles.

The electricity firm began erecting concrete electricity poles in the district under the Islamic Development Bank [IDB] funded project last year.

Agnes Maturu Mabel, an Environmental officer at Ceylex Engineering [Pvt] Ltd told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that their work has been frustrated by constant theft of electrical materials.

She says 90 turnbuckles each costing Shillings 200,000 have been stolen from concrete electricity poles recently in the sub-counties of Labongo Amida and Kitgum Matidi by goons disguising as their engineers.

She says this has affected their progress to install transformers on the electricity poles adding that it will drag the project period behind yet locals should have started utilizing electricity.

The electricity firm now says theft of the electrical materials which each cost them a loss of approximately 18 million shillings is inevitably going to delay the installation of transformers since new orders for the materials shipped from India and Sri Lanka.

Wilfred Nyeko, Labongo Amida Sub-county LCIII Chairperson says theft of the electrical materials has greatly affected chances of the locals from consuming electricity.

He says two transformers delivered by Ceylex Engineering [Pvt] Ltd meant to be installed in Tangi Agoro village and Opete trading centre have been taken back because turnbuckles meant to support electricity poles have been stolen.

Security officials in the sub-county suspect the electrical materials could have been vandalized by former employees of Power Planet Engineer Services Ltd, one of the firms subcontracted by Ceylex Engineering Ltd over unpaid arrears.

Information Uganda Radio Network obtained indicates that Power Planet Engineer Services Ltd was subcontracted to install power lines in Lagoro Sub County and Labongo Amida Sub County but didn’t pay some of its workers.

Maturu confirmed receiving reports that the firm had not paid some of its employees’ salaries, food allowances and rent in the past months in areas where they had been working causing disgruntlement. She says the matter was under investigation.

Kitgum Resident District Commissioner William Komakech says an investigation into the theft has commenced. He, however, warned the village local council chairpersons to be vigilant and report or arrest suspicious individuals found to be tampering with the electrical installations in their areas.

Vandalism of electrical materials has been the major concerns for power distributor UMEME over persistent power blackout in Northern Uganda. The Power distributor has continued to lose several major electricity materials over the years due to vandalism fueled by weak legislation, costing it millions of shillings in losses annually.

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