Two years ago, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) started installing solar street lights on the streets of Kampala.
According to the then Executive Director Jennifer Musisi, the aim was to reduce the costs of electricity which had hit about Shs200m per month.
However, the project has since suffered setbacks due to theft of some materials such as solar batteries, cables, angle line pipes and solar panels, by former KCCA staff.
According to the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Patrick Onyango, these ‘vandals’ usually operate during the day while donning KCCA apparel.
“This is a costly setback. Suspects who do this sometimes pretend to be KCCA workers or could be former workers who still have uniforms and know how the system works,” said Onyango, adding that KCCA needs to update the system and change the way work is done.
Currently, most affected places in Kampala are Jinja Road, Clock Tower, Nile Avenue, Makindye and Speke Road.
“Our investigations clearly show that the suspects who remove the batteries from the concrete manholes, and solar panels from the top of the pole are very experienced people,” Onyango added.
KCCA spokesperson Peter Kaujju however, appealed to the police to arrest whoever is suspected or found vandalizing the lights.
“Our engineers normally don’t work at night unless there is an emergency. Yet in most cases, batteries are stolen at night, I can’t refute what police says but also people who buy them must be blamed,” he told Watchdog Uganda on Thursday.
He added that vandalism costs the authority huge sums of money.
“The project would have been completed by now but vandalism has made us look incompetent. The entire lighting system costs Shs8 million and if one takes a battery or a panel, this is a big setback. We appeal to the public to work with us so that we protect our city,” said Kauju.
Vandalism is more common, Kampala, Mukono, Banda, Natete and Nakulabye.
Last year, Umeme Limited spent over Shs600m to replace 18 transformers that had been vandalized in Mukono district.
According to Umeme spokesperson Stephen Ilungole, last year over 40 transformers were vandalized causing a loss of over Shs1bn.