Umeme to spend Shs8 billion on replacing electricity poles


Electricity distributor Umeme is to spend Shs7.8 billion to replace 9, 000 power poles on electricity distribution across select districts in the country.

The poles, which are over 28 years old and rotting, are blamed for some of the unplanned power outages because in event of rain, such poles can easily fall.

In December last year, electricity users in Ntungamo District spent days without electricity after a number of poles fell, cutting cables and disconnecting electricity supply in the process.

The poles will be replaced in Mityana, Kampala, Mbale and Bubulo districts.

Umeme will also replace poles in Nakaseke District, which President Museveni promised to make an industrial hub in the near future.
In the course of replacing the poles, power will be turned off, which would cost some businesses lost hours of production.

Umeme media manager Stephen Ilungole said the replacement of the poles is part of Umeme’s capital expenditure for this 2016.

“It will be part of the investment expected to be spent this year on strengthening the distribution network to cope with current demand and in preparation for new generation from Isimba and Karuma hydro power plants,” Mr Ilungole told Daily Monitor last week.

Mr Ilungole added that the new poles would help to ensure safety since they are freshly treated.
Umeme currently manages an 18, 000 – kilometre long low voltage distribution line that connects electricity to its estimated 810, 923 consumers – as of December 2015.

In the region, Tanzania and Kenya are gradually moving from wooden poles to metallic and concrete ones.

They are doing this because there are cases when there are fewer wooden poles than required and because metallic or concrete poles last much longer. Metallic poles last for at least 31 years whereas the concrete ones last for 47 years.

The two types are, however, more expensive than the wooden ones which are the majority in the country. It is not clear how much the company will spend on the cables.

Relatedly, the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited plans to convert the wooden 300kilometre Tororo to Lira line to metal (pylon).

This, according to one of the company’s documents, is meant to reduce the maintenance costs of the line.

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