Fines, imprisonment just two weapons in the anti-power theft, vandalism arsenal

Fines, imprisonment just two weapons in the anti-power theft, vandalism arsenal

A man checks his ‘Yaka’ units in Uganda. PHOTO/FILE The proposal to fine one Shs400 million or Shs1 billion for stealing electricity or vandalising power infrastructure respectively has elicited immense public interest.

Government, which made the proposal, says should Parliament pass it, arguing that it will deter would-be offenders.

On the other hand, there are many observers who say the sentences will not put a stop to the vices.
Those arguing the punishments will not have an impact say attention should be on lowering the connection charges, quickening the connections, reducing the retail tariffs, and providing reliable power.

Still, it should be made clear that the penalties proposed are just one of the measures meant to check power theft and the destruction of power infrastructure.

To circumvent the connection costs barrier, prospective customers will soon be able to pay in instalments.
Those with accounts in selected financial institutions will be free to apply for connection loans, which they will repay over at least a two to three-year period.

Like any other loan, they will pay interest, only that this being a noble government cause, the interest shall be lower than the rate for commercial credit.

Regarding hastening connections to the grid, applicants who choose to self-fund are connected in between 10 to 15 days of paying for the service.

Of the 125,000 connections power distributor Umeme effected in 2021, close to 60,000 were customer-funded connections, an indication that many prospective customers who want faster services are warming to it.

Prospective customers with access to smartphones, iPads, laptops and desktop computers and Internet connection now apply for connections online.

On slashing the tariffs, the utility’s contribution is in reducing energy losses so that there are more units of power over which the power generation, transmission and distribution costs will be spread.For illustrative purposes, were the total cost Shs1.196 billion and that were divided among 1.6 million customers, the result will be 747.5 while if it were divided over 3.2 million, each unit will be 373.75.The utility is also connecting more applicants – it now has 1.6 million customers, up from 292,000 (2005) – in line with the government’s goals to increase access to the grid and the consumption of power.When it comes to affordability of the tariff, there is need for a general definition. In the electricity sector, this refers to a case where one’s power bill does not exceed five percent of their income.Basing on that, to anyone […]

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