Power outages in Northern Uganda leave legislators skeptical

Members of Parliament from Northern Uganda have decried the continued power blackout with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga describing it as a scandal.

“I think the issue of power in Northern Uganda is a scandal. We have had many issues here; Gulu is always in blackout, the neighbouring districts are always in black out, and as for West Nile, it is a night mare,” said Kadaga while chairing the plenary sitting of Wednesday 7, October 2020.

MPs are concerned that whereas government committed to fix the power outage in the region in 2019, no action has been taken and business has come to a standstill.

“As I speak, from the time we started receiving rains, power blackouts are the order of the day and no economic activity that requires electricity is taking place,” said Hon. Franca Akello (FDC, Agago).

In 2019, the then State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development (Minerals), Hon. Peter Lokeris, told Parliament that his ministry had begun installing pylons to replace wooden poles, which are normally affected by the heavy rains, but according to Akello this has not been happened.

Akello instead told Parliament that Agago district has severally written to the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to supply them with at least 39 emergency wooden poles, which they would use to replace those that fall off as a result of heavy rains.  

“The district has written to REA but REA has paid a deaf ear, the district requested for 39 poles such that when it rains we are able to make replacements but that one too is hard for them,” said Akello.

Her counterpart from Nwoya district, Hon. Lilly Adong said for Nwoya, it is not even a matter of the rainy season, but a crisis of all seasons.

“We are permanently in a black out; whether it is rainy or sunny. It is not possible to have power for the whole week. We tried to reach umeme but their explanation on the weak performance of the generator is not satisfactory,” Adong, cried out.

Parliament also heard that in the neighbouring Teso sub-region, the story is not any better. Ngora Woman MP, Jaqueline Amongin, said her district is equally in darkness despite government’s commitment in 2019 to complete power installations in the region.

“The electric poles were delivered and erected but we do not have an explanation to voters on when they will begin to access power,” said Amongin.

The State Minister for Energy and Mineral Development (Minerals), Hon. Sarah Opendi, pledged her ministry’s commitment to the plight of Northern Uganda. She also pledged to see to it that the 39 electric poles request for Agago is honoured.