A Shs1 billion fine or a 15 years jail term awaits anyone who is found guilty of vandalizing electricity infrastructure following the passing of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
Legislators passed the Bill on Wednesday, 13 April 2022.
This passing of the bill comes at a time when the country has been experiencing vandalism of power lines, transformers, poles and other related infrastructure.
The object of the bill is to among others, provide for deterrent penalties for theft of electricity and vandalism of electrical facilities, provide for the membership and funding of the Electricity Disputes Tribunal, and to provide for additional functions of the authority; to increase funds allocated to the ERA from 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent of the revenue received from generated electrical energy.
The bill also seeks to prescribe the circumstances under which a holder of a generation or transmission licence may supply electricity to persons other than a bulk supplier to industrial parks at a tariff determined by government.
This will eliminate Umeme, the power distribution company, in service territories where it is not licensed and in effect implement the presidential directive of selling power at a tariff that eliminates the expensive distribution costs Umeme.
While presenting the report of the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources on the Bill, the Deputy Chairperson, Hon. Emely Kugonza said the penalty for interference with meters and electrical lines, vandalism and illegal connections should be increased from Shs100, 000 or imprisonment for one year to Shs4 million or a ten-year imprisonment or both for receiving vandalized electrical facilities, repeat vandalism, and interference with electrical works.
However, Members of Parliament said the punishment should be prohibitive suggesting an increase in the fines.
Hon. Milton Muwuma (NRM, Kigulu County South) said that it is necessary to increase the penalties to counter the mushrooming scrap dealers who always source their raw material from vandalism of state property.
“These people vandalize meters, poles and transformers putting the country at a loss. The penalty on vandalism should even be higher than Shs4 million,” he said.Bugweri County Members of Parliament, Hon. Abdu Katuntu said that there is disrespect of public property calling for ‘a strong punishment on people perpetrate the act’.Citing the vandalism of the chain link fencing constructed around the Kampala- Entebbe Expressway, Katuntu said serious punishments should be meted on the culprits.“We need very strong and deterrent measures to curb some members of the public from vandalizing public property. […]