UMEME staff conncets power. Courtesy photo

Fuel prices, constant power outages in Lira annoy business operators 

(Last Updated On: 9 September 2023)

Summary:

Diseal per litre across different fuel stations in the country is not less than UGX4,800. 

• At nearly all fuel stations, petrol per litre is not less than UGX5,100 

• A 1.5KVA generator (petrol) can cost UGX800,000 while a 3.5KW Edon is not less than UGX1,000,000.


Lira |Business owners in Lira City continue to cry and count losses due to the rampant power outages in the metropolitan and nearby areas. 

The affected businesses vastly include salons, bars, welding plants, and dairy milk sale points, among others. 

Some owners and managers of the above-mentioned businesses say they are ‘counting and running into losses due to high fuel prices which could have been their immediate alternative to run generators’.

Speaking to TND News, Rose Nampijja, a hairstylist who operates a salon within the business hub of Lira City, said that the continued power outages have greatly affected her.

“I have clients who need to dry their hair after washing but the ‘on and off’ power is just so frustrating. This has made me lose clients of late,” said Nampijja.

The fuel prices, she said, have been rising in the recent few days, something that Nampijja revealed is equally affecting her finances when it comes to fueling the small generator.

“Even when I have myself a generator, buying fuel is also expensive, especially now that the fuel prices seem to be rising each day.”

Another businessman who operates a dairy shop in Lira City who requested anonymity said he is continuously counting losses since he sells purely perishable goods like ghee and milk that need refrigeration.

Continuous power issues have made him count losses, he told TND News Nancy Atim, adding, “I have seen the milk getting spoiled because I have no other way of preserving it. I don’t have a generator yet.”

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Meanwhile, Joseph Omara, a welder who relies on power to operate his workshop, said he is having difficulties completing his clients’ orders due to unstable power in the region.

“Power stays on for an hour or two and goes off for almost five hours. This really frustrates our work because clients put us under pressure to complete their orders, especially after giving in their deposits,” Omara said with a frustrated face.

Just like others, Patrick Oryem, who operates a phone charging point and burning studio noted that it is very difficult to run his business using a generator because they are forced to hike charging prices for customers’ phones.

“I charge shs500 for small phones while shs1000 for smartphones when I use a generator. This instead has exacerbated losses onto our businesses.”

Speaking to James Ogwang, the Commercial Officer, UMEME branch Lira City, the continuous load shedding in Lira City and other districts across the sub-region has caused insecurity in the business centre, a concern their clients have raised several times.

Ogwang also told TND News the issue of load shedding is not only affecting Lira City but is rather a national issue due to the vandalism of power supply lines in Jinja. 

“This issue is yet to be addressed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. 

“The lines that used to supply the rest of Eastern were vandalised by unknown people. The three power towers later fell as a result of vandalism yet the main source of electricity generation is in Jinja and Bujagali. Therefore, if the towers are down, automatically, the whole of Eastern is cut off from the power source,” he explained. 

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According to Ogwang, load shedding is across the Northern and Eastern districts of Lira City, Lira district, Gulu City, Soroti and Jinja.

As it stands, Ogwang noted that areas experiencing load shedding have been tagged to independent power producers who have their turbines in Kapchorwa (2) and Karuma (1) although it is not sufficient, a reason rationing policy is used for now so that power is efficiently distributed especially at peak hours.

President Museveni passed the Electricity Amendment Bill on May 15, 2022, which later led to the amendment of the Electricity Act number 4.

The Law introduced stringent penalties to culprits of power theft, and vandals of electricity infrastructure such as the wires (lines), towers, transformers, circuit breakers, protection devices, and meters, among others

It is through this Electricity (Amendment) Act 2022 that security agencies are required and tasked to investigate, arrest, and prosecute vandals before the courts of Law.

In the new Law, the government has placed more stringent penalties for vandalism-related offences. The Law prescribes a 12-year jail sentence, or a fine of 50,000 Currency Points (1 billion shillings) or both for a vandal or anyone who receives vandalised electricity materials, and 15 years of imprisonment or 100,000 Currency Points (2 billion shillings) or both for repeated violations.

The Uganda electricity sector suffers a huge challenge of vandalism of electricity infrastructure and power theft by unscrupulous people.

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