Detectives from Busoga East police have rescued nine UMEME employees who were deployed to disconnect illegal power lines in Iwumba village in Buwaya Sub County in Mayuge district.
The UMEME team went to the area on Wednesday to crack down on illegal power connections where residents had illegally tapped power from neighboring poles.
However, after close to 30 minutes of watching, residents demanded that UMEME officials explain why they were disconnecting some of the electricity lines that had been connected to their houses under the rural electrification program.
The angry residents surrounded UMEME's operational vehicles and demanded that all occupants disembark and return the disconnected wires or risk mob action.
According to Moses Byakika, a resident in the area, the process of distributing free electricity meters in their community was not affected due to unclear circumstances.
This, along with the fact that planned beneficiaries were never briefed about the setbacks, catalyzed some residents to engage in illegal power connections, with the help of former UMEME employees commonly referred to as “kamyufus.”
Byakika argued that, rather than disconnecting all the wires, UMEME officials would have gathered intelligence information from the communities and reached out to only those with illegal power connections.
The general crackdown angered a section of residents who ganged up against the operatives in protest of them speeding off with their wires.
Yusuf Mutalemwa, another resident in the area, stated that although there are cases of illegal power connections, most of their houses were connected under the rural electrification program, and there was no need to disconnect them.
He further argued that UMEME operatives should always engage police authorities before conducting such operations to minimize chaotic scenes and create harmony, and satisfaction within the different areas of operation.
UMEME officials have declined to comment on the matter, but the Mayuge district police commander, Bashir Siriba, confirmed that the teams are free from harm and sanity has been restored in the area to allow normal business.
Siriba said that electricity wires have been returned to the affected individuals, and harmonious meetings shall be conducted between UMEME teams, local leaders, and communities to foster sanity during future related operations.