As Uganda continues its strive to achieve 100% access to reliable electricity for all Ugandans, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has noted vandalism of electricity infrastructure as one of the major challenges interfering with the operations of the Electricity Supply Industry (ESI).
Annually, the Industry loses Billions of Shillings due to vandalism which in the end affects the quality of power supply and End-User Tariffs.
According to reports by the Grid/System Operator, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), reconstruction of a Transmission tower can cost between UGX 30 Million and UGX 40 Million. However, when a tower is vandalized, two more nearby towers are likely to collapse, which means that UETCL will incur an estimated material cost of UGX 120 Million for reconstruction of the three towers.
“Yet with good maintenance, pylon-supported Transmission networks serve a life span of about 30 years, during which period investments can be geared towards expansion of the grid to effectively dispatch the Electricity generated.
It is, therefore, a huge setback for the ESI when just quarter way the lifespan of the network, more funds have to be injected into the existing network instead of advancing the grid,” Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the ERA Chief Executive Officer noted.
“Vandalism is just a tip of the Iceberg. There are other malpractices that continue to interfere with the operations of the ESI, including power theft through tapping on live wires/conductors, tampering with metering systems so that a customer pays less than what they consume and non-payment of bills by customers supplied through the postpaid billing system.”
According to ERA, such malpractices have a big impact on the End-user Tariffs because more financial resources are required to replace the vandalized equipment but also establish infrastructure to connect other customers to the grid.
In addition to the impact on the ESI, there is a new practice of stealing meters from already connected customers. In these cases, a customer is required to meet the costs of replacement of the stolen equipment and many have fallen victim.
Electricity consumers should thus be very vigilant and report cases of vandalism but also protect the electrical equipment installed at their premises in order to avoid incurring the unnecessary cost of replacement.