Two people suspected of stealing electricity transmission items have been detained during the ongoing operation against vandalism of electricity pylons in Mukono district.
The suspects; Jimmy Munina and Juliet Mukisa were traced and arrested from two stores at Mulago Central Zone in Mukono Central Division Mukono municipality located a few meters from Umeme offices. Deputy Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, ASP Luke Owoyesigyire says the suspects are still detained at Mukono police division.
"The items recovered from each store include wires, conductors, pole cups, reel insulators, 'com cables' and savers," Owoyesigyire said.
He notes that these operations will continue until the electricity infrastructure is no longer vandalized. In the last two months, two 132Kv transmission lines from the Jinja based 180Mw Nalubale and 200Mw Kira hydropower plants were vandalized.
Also, the 132Kv Owen Falls-Lugogo transmission line was also vandalized at Kivuvu village in Mukono district leading to four towers falling on the ground. The Owen Falls-Mukono North-Mulago transmission was also vandalized at Nasuuti village leading to the falling of one tower.
The incidents have since contributed to extensive power outages in the country as well as a national blackout which also affected neighbouring countries of DRC and parts of Rwanda.
The chief executive officer of Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), Michael Taremwa Kananura says replacing the vandalized towers requires a lot of money which they currently don’t and yet they have to continue the supply. Besides, it requires about two years to complete works once the money is secured.
“Since the vandalism incident, the alternative supply routes have been becoming weak due to heavy loading and if we don’t consider emergency measures and faults keep on happening, load shedding and blackouts will still happen,” Taremwa notes.
UETCL is yet to complete the initiative of establishing electric pole lines as a short-term alternative to replace the vandalized towers in Mukono and Jinja districts. UETCL is considering sensitizing communities against the dangers of vandalism, deploying aerial drone cameras for surveillance and sensors on towers located within hotspots.
They have so far identified vandalism hotspots such as Nama sub county, Lugazi and Kakira sugar plantation, Mabira and Lugalambo forest, Mbarara Nkenda line at Ishaka, Mobuku irrigation scheme, Muwayo in Tororo and Apuyo in Soroti. The ICT manager at UETCL, Abdul Karim Jjumba says most affected towers are located in isolated places and require detection gadgets all the time.