New Vision 

By Roderick Ahimbazwe

A non-governmental organisation has taken UMEME to court over failure to make details of its 20-year-concession contract public. 

The power distributor is jointly sued with the Government and the sector regulator in a suit filed at the High Court in Kampala yesterday.

The African Institute of Energy Governance (AFIEGO) along with 1,927 others want the Government to reveal the details of the contract it signed with UMEME.

The public who are the consumers are entitled to know what transpired between UMEME and the Government when signing their contract. That is why we are taking UMEME,  the Electricity Regulatory Authority, the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited and the Government to court,” Dickens Kamugisha, the AFIEGO chief executive officer, said yesterday.

Kamugisha revealed that his organisation had tried to ask UMEME for details of the contract but that they had been told that the contract was confidential.

“We want court to terminate this contract because the terms are very unfair to the people of Uganda who are the consumers of power,” he noted.

Kamugisha observed that since UMEME was getting paid for any power losses, it was not in its interests to improve electricity services because it stood to gain from the rebates.

Kamugisha also wondered why the findings of the Saleh Commission were not being investigated by the Government. The Saleh Commission that reviewed the UMEME contract found out that the tariffs were expensive, while the Government was paying a lot of subsidies to UMEME.

“The commission made several recommendations, which are yet to be implemented,” Kamugisha said.

He said his organisation, unlike the Saleh Commission, does not want the contract reviewed but rather terminated and the running of the electricity sector given back to the Government or put up for competitive bidding. Owen Murangira of Murangira and Advocates, the AFIEGO attorneys, said his client was concerned about the high electricity charges and the poor billing system based on estimation.

“AFIEGO wants electricity to be declared a right so that everyone is entitled to cheap power. It also wants the billing of power by estimation to be declared unlawful,” he said.