The state Minister for Energy, Mr Sidronius Okaasai Opolot, has said government is determined to enforce the hefty fine of Shs1b to all electricity vandals.
According to the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022 passed in April last year, a Shs1 billion fine or a 15 years jail term was set for anyone who is found guilty of vandalising electricity infrastructure.
This bill came at a time when the country is experiencing vandalism of power lines, transformers, poles and other related infrastructure.
'Government has heavily invested a lot money in rural electrification. We expect locals to utilize this electricity to create jobs rather than engaging in vandalism or illegal connections, those who attempt to steal electricity or vandalise our infrastructure will pay heavily,' Mr Opolot said on Sunday while launching a new electricity power line in Kiboga District which connects 19 villages to the national power grid.
The beneficiary villages are; Kawawa, Kasubi, Kibanga, Wabitosi, Ndeeba, Degeya, Goyero, Nakasagazi, Kikwatambogo, Kabada, Kalyankozi Narisungwa -all in Nkandwa sub county. Others are; Wabinyira,Bugogo, Nakasozi ,Nakasengere ,Bulyambide ,Nakijja ,Kakibwa -all in Nakasozi Sub county.
Mr Opolot urged residents in the beneficiary villages to hire qualified electricians to connect their houses to avoid losses.
'If you attempt to hire quack electricians you risk having short circuits which may burn your houses,' he said
The minister revealed that Uganda currently has a total of 1,390MW and more 600 MW will be added before the end of this financial year.
'Our national electricity demand currently stands at only 900MW -meaning we will be at liberty to export excess electricity to the neighbouring countries,' he said.
Mr Ben Gaboyi, the social engineer TBEA CO Ltd, a private firm which worked on the electricity power line, said they have so far connected 50 trading centres to the national power grid in Kiboga District.
'These connections have been done in the three years we have been operating in the district, we are now left with the sub counties like Kayera, Kyekubya, Kyoma which don't have power,' he said.
Government has since 2013 borrowed up to $2.6 billion (about Shs9.5 trillion) to construct hydroelectricity dams, distribution lines and enable rural electrification.
About half of the loan to the tune of $1.1 billion (about Shs4 trillion) was secured for the construction of 600MW Karuma Dam, another $482.6m (Shs1.8 trillion) for Isimba Dam, both from Exim Bank of China and $212.7 million (Shs776.4 billion) for bridging the demand gap through accelerated rural electrification programme.
Other projects that also consumed huge loans include; energy for rural transformation, which got $143 million (Shs522 billion) and rural electrification access had $133 million (Shs485.5b), where $72 million went for extension of 400KV Masaka-Mbarara transmission line, $80 million Opuyo-Moroto transmission line, pound 15 million Mutundwe-Entebbe transmission, $37 million for Mirama-Kabale transmission line, $32 million for Kampala metropolitan transmission improvement system and $90 million for grid expansion and rural electrification project.
Gulu-Agago transmission line got pound 40 million, while $45.9m funds obtained through the loans went again to Mirama-Kabale transmission and distribution network. About pound 40 million was obtained for Muzizi hydro project which was later abandoned sparking angry protests from legislators, and pound 23 million for airborne geophysical and geological mapping of Karamoja.