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UMEME invests Shs 3.2bln to stabilise power supply in Eastern Uganda 

MBALE, January 9, 2024 –  Power distributor, UMEME, has injected over Shs 3.2 billion aimed at stabilising power supply in  Mbale City and other areas in Eastern Uganda.

Of recent, local media houses have been awash with stories of how power blackouts were crippling businesses in the Eastern region known for trade, agricultural and industrial production.

However, while visiting Mbale City days ago, Dr Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi, the Chairperson, Electricity Regulatory Authority [ERA], said more than Shs 3.2 billion has been injected to improve reliability in Mbale City and the surrounding areas.

“We authorised UMEME to spend Shs 3.2 billion to upgrade the network and improve the reliability of power supply to Mbale city because this is a high demand area as the city is growing,” Wasagali said.

She added: “As the city is growing more power is needed. We can now celebrate that there is improvement in the network in Mbale City and power is going to be more reliable.”

She said for the last few months Mbale and surrounding areas have been shut down because of the upgrade.

She said UMEME has completed the upgrade and now power is going to be more reliable.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Energy, Sidronius Opolot Okaasai, said the Sino Uganda Mbale Industrial Park, run by Chinese investors in partnership with government, requires a substation which is permanent.

“That is what we are discussing with Chinese investors. An approval has been given for the investors to provide a loan to construct a permanent substation. The Chinese are going to construct a permanent substation for the park,” the minister said.

“Our Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources visited the area to know what we are doing on the ground. They are the ones who give us the money. We always report to them what we are doing. They have come to see how we have used the money to deliver services to the community,” he said.

“Delivering electricity to the communities and also the industries which are benefiting the electricity which we are giving to the communities. This is budgeting time we are going to ask for more money to do the work,” he said.

He said the challenge of unreliable electricity at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital has been addressed. “The hospital had unreliable electricity supply, but we now have a dedicated line to the hospital,” he said.

The latest developments were announced during the tour of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to Sino Uganda Mbale industrial Park in Mbale City recently.

The Chairperson of the Committee and Budaama South MP, Dr. Emmanuel Otala said the direct power line to Mbale Regional Referral Hospital is important in running some critical machines.

“The upgrade has been done in the area and there is value for money.  With our old power infrastructures we incur a lot of power losses. There is a need to upgrade infrastructures so that we minimise losses and improve reliability of power supply,” Otala said.

Further, minister Opolot noted that the government’s emphasis is to deliver quality and reliable power supply to the people of Mbale City and surrounding areas.

Recently, UMEME Head of Communications, Peter Kaujju said they have been undertaking an electricity upgrade programme for Mbale City.

“When a city status was accorded to Mbale a lot of development came in. We had to upgrade and improve the lines so that we are able to serve the customers in that area,” Kaujju said.

“We have been building and restoring higher capacity conductors and lines to ensure that we are able to serve our people the way they should be getting power and ensure reliability,” he said.

According to Kaujju, UMEME is currently inspecting all power lines to see if all work was done properly. “For now, we don’t expect any shut down in Mbale City and other surrounding areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bulambuli County MP Isaac Katenya  said MPs on the Parliamentary Committee on Environment and Natural Resources have started touring various power substations in the country to understand how people are benefiting from the projects.

He said the recent investments in power supply in  Mbale City and Bugisu sub-region as a whole had brought great relief but also an opportunity to support the growth of businesses in the area.

Officials said to create power reliability in Mbale city, the power transformer at Mbale Substation was upgraded, with the investment being aimed at improving supply quality, availability and reliability.

Mark Gidudu, a prominent businessman in Mbale City appealed to government to increase electricity coverage and bring more villages in Eastern Uganda to the national electricity grid.“We are pleased with the progress that UMEME has made so far in stabilising the power supply in the region but more needs to be done,” he said.

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