By Christopher Nyeko

GULU: Gulu City is experiencing darkness and increase in criminality within the city square as the groups of suspected thugs have resorted to stealing the installed solar street light.

According to the information revealed by Christo Omara Balmoi, the Gulu City engineer, the city has lost over six solar street lights to suspected thugs only in January.

The highly hit roads are Alokolum,Walter Opwonya road and ring road where these six solar street lights were stolen from respectively.

The price of the solar street light in the market rangers from 9.3 million for double arm meanwhile the singled arm amount at 6.4 million shilling respectively

Due to the availability of the markets for the valuable parts of their part of the solar street lights, the thugs have reportedly resorted to stealing parts such as solar panel, bulbs, solar batteries and sensors thus selling them to unknown people in need.

The locals in Industrial area cell in BardegeLayibi, the most affected part of the city who talked to on anonymity condition revealed that they have witnessed the thugs untying the nuts from the structure of the solar street light and packing valuable parts like solar batteries, sensors, solar panel and bulb.

“They come with spanners, and other tools we do not know, they climb up to the top to and get the parts they want, when the climber is still up others would surround him until there mission are accomplished”

Due to the slow response from the police and cruel conditions the locals have experienced from the thugs, the communities are now derailed from reporting the incident to the security.

Raymond Thomas Opira, the chairperson of Pabo quarter’s cell in Bardege Layibi division said the thugs are taking advantage of the darkness to intensify their activities by disabling many of these solar street lights.

Opira added that due to the darkness, the level of criminality has increased in his Cell especially after the lifting of the lockdown.

Jacky Akello who operates a restaurant in Lango Road said due to the darkness, she nowadays stops selling food at 4pm.

Akello also explained that in the late evening when it is really dark, street kids flock in front of her restaurant which blocks her customers from accessing the area.

Gulu city has the total 1396 solar street lights out of these 1169 are working meanwhile 227 are not working.

These solar street lights were installed using Uganda Support to Municipal and Urban Infrastructural Development Fund Aiming at creating beautification at night, prolonging the time for business, and reducing criminal activities at night.

However Christo Omara Balmoi the City engineer attributed some of the fault in solar street lights to the factors like aging of the batteries, panel burn out, faulty charge controllers, and impact of very strong wind experienced in Gulu city during dry season, speedy vehicles knocking down the poles and theft.

He however said due to slow remittance of the locally generated revenue from the local government, the city is now financially constrained to repair over 130 vandalized solar street lights.

According to Alfred Okwonga the Gulu City Mayor, Gulu City have budgeted for 50 million to rectify 50 vandalized solar street lights.

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