Uganda to Hand Out Near-Life Sentences to Electric Infrastructure Vandals

Uganda to Hand Out Near-Life Sentences to Electric Infrastructure Vandals

Image sourced from Following the passing of Uganda’s new Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2022 on Wednesday, Ugandans found guilty of vandalizing electricity infrastructure may face a fine of $283,764.96 (Shs 1-billion) or a 15-year jail sentence, just five years short of the Ugandan life sentence term of 20 years.

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 at an increased rate.

According to the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, the object of the bill is to, among other things, provide deterrent penalties for theft of electricity and vandalism of electrical facilities, provide for the membership and funding of the Electricity Disputes Tribunal, provide for additional functions of the authority, as well as to increase funds allocated to the ERA from 0.3 per cent to 0.7 per cent 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 the Ugandan government.

According to the East African country’s parliament, the bill 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.

Extreme Penalties

While presenting the report of the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources on the Bill, the Deputy Chairperson, Emely Kugonza said the penalty for interference with meters and electrical lines, vandalism and illegal connections should be increased from the previously set amount of $28.36 (Shs100,000) or imprisonment for one year to $1,134.76 (Shs4-million) or ten-year imprisonment or both for receiving vandalized electrical facilities, repeated vandalism and interference with electrical works.

However, other Members of Parliament said the punishment should be prohibitive suggesting an increase in the fines as damaged infrastructure may cause much higher fees for repairs and faults as well as the social implications of failing electricity supply.

The Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka defended the need for the hefty penalties, saying “The people taking down the power lines and other infrastructures are not the common people down there. These vandals are very sophisticated people. So we need to make the law very deterrent.”

Other Changes Brought by the Bill

On the removal of the monopoly of […]

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