By UG Reports
Kampala: The Energy and Mineral Development Ministry wants a total ban on the metal scrap business across the country, this the rampant vandalism of electricity infrastructure.
Over the past five years, more than 200 pylons, as well as other valuable electricity infrastructure worth billions of Shillings, has been vandalized across the country, thus affecting the Electricity Connection Policy –ECP and the National Development Plan III’s target of increasing electricity coverage to 60 percent of the population by 2027.
Sidronius Okasai Opolot, the Minister of State for Energy told URN in an interview that his Ministry is currently in talks with the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives to initiate a total ban on the buying and selling of metal scrap as one of the ways of ending the rampant vandalism of electricity infrastructure by the suspected scrap dealers.
According to Opolot, most of the vandalized electricity infrastructure ends up with scrap dealers who in turn sell them to those who melt or turn the metals into other products. Opolot noted that 12 pylons have been reportedly vandalized in Kakira and Kampala Capital respectively and that in the areas of Mabira, the vandals began by stealing the CCTV Cameras installed on the pylons before vandalizing the pylons.
He noted that an Inter-Ministerial Committee has been formed and is currently developing other strategies of mitigating the vice including a move to establish Utility Courts in other parts of the country for timely prosecution of the vandals once arrested.
Emmanuel Otiam Otaala, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee of Environment and Natural Resources, says that they carried out an investigation on the vandalism of the electricity infrastructure and found out that the vandals are well organized and armed, adding that so far 38 suspects have been arrested from Northern Uganda.
Otaala revealed that his committee is currently working on the Electricity Amendment Bill and that shall include a deterrent penalty for the vandals of the electricity infrastructure, which include a fine of Shillings one billion and a jail term not less than 10 years.
According to the recent Auditor General’s Report, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited –UETCL lost 0.5 billion Shillings in purchasing Galvanized Angle Bars to replace the vandalized towers. It also incurred Shillings 1.5 billion in replacement costs on assorted transmission line items vandalized between 2017 and 2021.