Officials from Umeme and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) Tuesday sought refuge at Busia police station after they were attacked and beaten by residents while carrying out electricity meter validation in Busia Town.
Some officials who had climbed electric poles to remove meters for verification were instead attacked by angry locals amidst accusations of theft.
Mr Khalid Waiswa, one of the officials who fled to the police station together with part of his team, vowed not to return to work until their safety was assured.
“These people are too rowdy and we can’t continue in such an environment,” he said.
Trouble started when one of the officials scaled an electric pole along Hadongole Road, Kisenyi Village, Western Division, and started removing its meters without the residents’ knowledge.
A group of irate residents immediately surrounded the electric pole and started pelting stones at officials while ordering him to stop removing the meters and come down.
Mr Isa Abdu, one of the residents, said he was not going to allow the officials to take the meter.
“I bought my meter from Umeme at Shs700, 000 but barely three months later they are alleging that it is fake,” he said.
But as the officials descended from the pole, they were roughed up and beaten, forcing them to flee to police for safety.
Mr Bernard Wandera, one of the traders, said he was surprised to see the officials removing their meters and packing them in sacks with no reason.
An official from UNBS, who sought refuge at Busia Police Station but declined to be named, told Daily Monitor that they ‘‘were not impounding meters but simply checking to establish whether they work properly.’’
“This is a countrywide exercise that started from Kampala and will spread to Mbale, Iganga, Jinja and we have been here (Busia) for the past one week,” he said.
He added that the exercise followed complaints of power theft due to illegal connections from Umeme and claims by its customers that Umeme was over billing clients.
Mr Mathew Tusubira, the deputy Busia Resident District Commissioner (RDC), faulted the officials for their failure to inform authorities about their intentions.
“They needed to have alerted the police and my office about the operation so that they are given security. I hope next time they will learn to work with the various stakeholders,” he said.
He, however, added that he is in touch with police to provide the officials with security to continue with the exercise.