National Security Council To Discuss Electricity Vandalism-Nankabirwa

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is seeking the intervention of the National Security Council–NSC against the rampant vandalism targeting key electricity transmission and distribution networks across the country. The National Security Council – NSC is slated to sit Wednesday. 

Chaired by the President, the Council comprises the Vice President, Ministers of Internal and Foreign Affairs, Security, Defense, Finance, and the Attorney General while the Inspector General of Police, Army Commander, and Internal and External Security Organizations Directors, among others as ex-officio members.

The appeal by the Ministry follows the early December incidents of vandalism targeting electricity towers on the national grid around Lugazi and Mukono Municipalities that caused countrywide blackouts and affected parts of Kenya, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC. 

In October, data analyzed by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited – UETCL revealed that 52 pylons were vandalized between Bujagali Hydropower Dam and Kikira Sugar plantations in Lugazi. 

The electricity infrastructure assets targeted by vandals normally include pylons, wires/conductors, transformers, transformer oils, poles, and underground cables among others. The Most recent countrywide blackouts between November and December caused uproars among Members of Parliament who raised it for debate as a matter of national importance.

Consequently, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa directed the Minister of Energy led by Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu to present a report to the House within seven days. Nankabirwa requested the Speaker to give her more time to enrich her report because the Ministry had already tabled the matter before the National Security Council, which will sit later today to discuss the matter.

Nankabirwa explained that key among the intelligence information at their disposal shows that the acts of vandalism are being committed to plunge the country into darkness and frustrate the socio-economic transformation under the ruling National Resistance Movement – NRM Government.

Separately, Sidronius Okasaai Opolot, the Kumi County legislator who doubles as the Minister of State for Energy elaborated that between November and December, five electricity towers that transmit 132 KV from the Jinja; 180 megawatts Nalubaale and the 200 megawatts Kiira Hydropower Plant were vandalized, leading to massive blackouts in the Central and Western regions of Uganda.  

Additionally, transmission lines of the 132KV Owen Falls – Lugogo were also vandalized on November 12, 2022, at Kivuvu village, in Mukono district. A day after, the Owen Falls – Mukono North – Mulago transmission line was also vandalized at Nasuuti village in Mukono. 

On December 5, 2022, the police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, reported that the Flying Squad Unit and Crime Intelligence in Mukono, Lugazi, Kassangati, Kyengera, and Kampala Metropolitan area had arrested 16 suspects for malicious damage and theft of utility assets. 

An assortment of exhibits was recovered from scrap dealers in Lugazi Municipality, Wakimese Zone in Kyengera, Nakitende Scrap Yard, and Kisenyi scrap dealers while the hunt for 22 others was still ongoing.

Annual estimates from the Ministry of Energy indicate that about Shillings Two billion is spent to replace vandalized or stolen electricity assets. Apparently, At least Shillings 87 billion is required to rehabilitate the electricity infrastructure that has been destroyed by vandals in the last two years. The Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2022, Section 85(3) prescribes a fine of 100,000 currency points (nearly two billion Shillings) for any person convicted of theft or vandalism of electric materials.

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