30 Arrested in Bwaise Power theft crackdown

Written by: 
Diana Nantulya


Thirty one people have been arrested in on-going operation by power distributor Umeme to get rid of illegal connections and theft.

The October 17 operation left homesteads and trading areas in Bwaise, a slum to the north of Kampala, in total blackout after they were found to have been illegally connected to the national electricity grid. The Umeme special campaign codenamed “Operation power theft” left the power supplier with no option but to cut off all illegal connections and have suspects arrested.

Backed by the police, Umeme mounted an operation in Bwaise and surrounding areas of Kazo and Nabweru, following cases of rampant power theft in the area. The Umeme metering services manager, Kampala East and North East, Eng. John Nuwamanya, said that up to 26% of the power supplied to the area is being stolen illegally.

“Many were found illegally connecting themselves. The operation was done to curb and stop power theft. Umeme is faced with an escalating problem of power theft, making the utility to lose millions due to illegal connections,” he said

Nuwamanya added that “wires were impounded and the arrested culprits will have to be charged and prosecuted in courts of law. Umeme will continue to carry out such operations to scale down the problem of illegal connection and power theft”.

Most of the house and shop owners disappeared for fear of being arrested as soon as Umeme officials and the police stormed the areas. Cooper Building located in Bwaise near Kawaala junction was one of the houses that was affected during the operation.

Some business operators, especially those dealing in milk, were counting loses due to power blackout as they could not risk to open their shops when the operation was still on-going.

“I had just brought the milk and poured into the cooler but unfortunately the operation started. I had to lock up the shop for fear of being arrested. Many will count loses,” said Sauda Mbabazi, an attendant at Tayebwa Diary.

Sarah Nambogo, a tenant on Musoke’s House was among those arrested in connection with power theft.

Umeme security manager, Nsekanabo said that more operations are underway. “The operation will have to continue in order to scale down the rampant theft of power. This has remained the biggest challenge that needs concerted efforts. People should change their mindset because it’s a crime to engage in power theft and illegal connections,” he said.

Nsekanabo said that those arrested have been taken to Kawempe police station and will be charged for causing financial losses to Umeme.