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Uganda approves specialised court for power theft, vandalism, related crimes

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As part of new drive to end rising cases of power theft and illegal connections to bypass metering, Ugandan government, through the judiciary has officially launched a specialised court dedicated to prosecuting individuals implicated in electricity-related crimes.

It would e recalled that some experts and government officials especially in Lagos State have mulled such idea few weeks ago, saying going by the observed surge in the act of bypassing prepaid meters, government is considering criminalizing power theft.

However in Uganda, the court referred to as Wildlife and Utilities Court, will be operating from Buganda Road Court in Kampala, to tackle the country’s rise in illegal power connections, the Monitor reported.

Explaining issue on the new court, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, said: “Cases accruing from this area of the law have previously been handled by the courts generally across the country.

“There has been no fast-tracking, no uniform sentencing, no monitoring and evaluation mechanism in the handling of these cases.”

“It has, therefore, been difficult for us to assess how effectively or efficiently we have been performing in that regard. It is, however, easy to conclude that we have been performing miserably. By invoking the intrinsic benefits of specialisation, we want to realise a turn-around in this area of access to justice.”

He therefore encouraged the designated magistrates to always benchmark and do research ensuring they stay abreast with the law, media reported.

On Uganda experiences in illegal power connections, it would be recalled that last year, he Ugandan electricity distributor (Umeme) embarked on a nationwide campaign, which was set to address issues relating to illegal power connections and vandalism.

Launching the drive, the utility’s managing director, Celestino Babungi, stated that these crimes result in unbilled electricity, which in turn lead to revenue loss for the company.

Babungi said: “Power theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure are fundamental and a key problem.” Read more…

“Power theft is a criminal offence, which is costing the country close to Shs100 billion ($296 million) annually, which would have been used to build new networks, minimise power tariffs and some innocent people are losing lives because of power theft,” Babungi added.


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