Uganda's Mpigi residents reject delayed power project

27 September 2014, Kampala – If the stance adopted by some residents of Mpigi district is anything to go by, then a promise delayed can easily become a promise rejected.

Energy ministry officials and Mpigi political leaders recently had a rough time convincing residents of Nabyewanga trading centre and Ningye parish in Nkozi sub-county to accept a long-promised government electricity project. The residents accused their MPs and district leaders of conniving with officials from Energy to hoodwink them into dropping a more promising private power project.

power transmission stationNabyewanga trading centre lies about 100km on the Kampala-Masaka highway but is not on the national power grid. There are, however, power lines running through the area, although these are of a much higher voltage. When President Museveni visited Katonga in 2005, he pledged to extend electricity to the nearby areas of Nabyewanga and Ningye. But he has never delivered on that promise.

“We have seen a number of power lines passing above our heads going to other areas. Replacements have also been made in cases where poles were old but no one is thinking about us,” said Hajji Musa Sembuuze, a resident.

When they lost hope in the government project, the residents linked up with Joseph Ssentamu, a Kampala businessman from Lwera. They agreed to mobilise money and buy a step-down transformer for the trading center.

“This arrangement is in high gear and we are about to get this transformer.Here you are telling us that government is going to give us electricity. We are afraid that you may convince us to drop our idea and in the long run government fails to deliver that electricity,” Sembuuze said.

Other residents were less civil, hurling insults at the officials and leaders. This angered the under secretary in the ministry of Energy, Ronald Segawa, who led the government team, and he proposed that the project be taken to a more needy area. Segawa was flanked by MPs Sarah Temulanda (Mpigi Woman) and Kenneth Kiyingi Bbosa (Mawokota South) and Mpigi district LC-V Chairman John Mary Luwakanya.

They had earlier told the residents that they were to benefit from the $7.5m (about Shs 19b) which government injected in the Kawanda-Kimwanyi power line that would cover seven districts.

“Each district has a share of Shs 2.5bn on that project and when the ministry asked Mpigi district officials to identify an area to benefit, they unanimously picked on Nabyewanga and Ningye and very soon you will be enjoying this power,” Segawa said, before residents suggested they had waited way too long.

An angry Segawa, in response, asked the leaders at the meeting to go back to the drawing board. The leaders, however, pleaded for the retention of the project, saying people had only spoken out of frustration.

“There is no doubt that the project is coming to Nabyewanga because we have been doing everything possible to make sure that it comes. We shall, therefore, continue to talk and explain to the ministry officials that what has taken place in the meeting is not what these people meant.” Kiyingi told The Observer.


– The Observer

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