Beneficiaries of the rural electrification project in Kalungu district are protesting the high tariffs charged. They argue that it is inappropriate to charge high tariffs to rural communities and could affect the consumption.
Ten parishes in Kalungu district were connected to the power grid by Rural Electrification Agency –REA. They are Kasanje, Ddada, Bwesa Namagoma, Kaduggala, Kinyerere, Kirowooza, Bbaala, Kitamba and Kibis. Barbra Nankya, a resident of Kyakibuta village in Lwabenge sub county says they were highly excited on received powers after many decades of waiting, but to their disappointment, the cost associated with consuming it is heavily eating into their meagre incomes.
According to the latest power tariff plan released in June last year by the Electricity Regulatory Authority-ERA; domestic consumers are charged 769 shillings per unit power while the tariff for commercial consumers was put at shillings 684.8 per unit.
But Nankya, who uses the power for domestic use argues that many of them can hardly afford the power bills on top of their other daily living expenses.
Gaudencia Nassiwa, a resident of Kigasa Parish in Kyamulibwa sub-county also explains that they are afraid the cost of power could frustrate their long expectations of opening up the various electricity-induced employment opportunities in their area.
Some residents in other villages are complaining that the grid bypassed their areas hence missing out of the opportunity of having connections.
Joseph Lukwago and Mathias Kijjambu, chairpersons of Nabisoga and Lusasa parishes respectively, have indicated that their areas are not considered despite their earlier requests submitted to the district.
Lukwago argues that they need to first get connections such that they can jointly press government to lower the unit cost.
But Richard Kyabaggu, the Kalungu LCV chairperson has pleaded with the residents to remain patient, saying the contractor is still in the area to complete the project design.
According to the project design by REA, their target is to cover a distance of 167 kilometers with power lines to increase connectivity in the areas of Kalungu district, for purposes of spurring development in the area.
On the concerns of high tariff, James Banaabe, the Director of Energy Resources at Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development says the country’s aspiration to lower tariff will only be met after Ugandans can consume all the generated power.