Gulu district will experience Power outages over the next two years as major capital investments are undertaken on the Northern Uganda supply network, Power distributors, UMEME have stated.
The investments include the establishment of four sub stations in Gulu. This, according to Robert Kisubi, the stakeholder’s manager at UMEME Limited, is one of the measures to curb rampant power outages and exploring the possibilities of supplying electricity through Kitgum to back up the Lira supply line.
Gulu district with about 60,000 connections to the national grid has been experiencing major power shutdowns over the past three months with blackouts lasting up to 8 hours a day.
As a result, the business community is upset, blaming the power distributors for a very unreliable service that has rendered them redundant in the recent past. A few traders who can afford generators claim that the cost of doing business has also gone up.
Brian Oloya, the owner of Layibi Rice and maize millers in Gulu municipality says that in many cases they have failed to generate any earnings for days due to lack of power supply.
Simon Nyeko, a carpenter in Gulu industrial area says the shortages have thrown him out of business and now spends days trying to hide from clients whose jobs remain incomplete.
But UMEME partly blames the crisis on the increasing number of T-offs on the Gulu feeder. The T-off is a high voltage line that branches from the main line.
There are 45 t-offs in the Gulu feeder from Lira with the longest feeding to Adjumani at a length of 240km, although the recommended length of a T-off is 100km.
According to UMEME, the problem is pressed by extreme weather conditions, vegetation which affects power lines, Bypass of transformer protection and illegal activities like power hooking.
Kisubi says that although UMEME is working towards reducing the rate of power blackouts, the supply may not fully stabilize over the next two years. He adds that in the short term, they will work with Uganda Electricity Distribution Company limited to replace faulty circuits and replace bypassed fuses on t-offs.
Kisubi further explains that emphasis will be put on eliminating vandalism and illegal operations on the network.
Jocelyn Rwabogo, the customer services Engineer says that they are working towards a target of 4 hours maximum of power outage through coordinating work between the Gulu and Lira team to find solutions quick.
Rwabogo says that some lines under UEDCL will have to tap directly from Lira in order to reduce outages arising out of T-off overload. She says that now they are also working on controlling the switches using automated circuit breakers centrally to restore power and solve related problems.
The Gulu RDC Andrew Awany appealed to Umeme to engage stakeholders at least once every two months in order to explain the state of affairs in the sector.