By Francis Emorut
Members of the parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises have expressed concern about poor quality poles used for the rural electrification project saying it’s not value for money.
The MPs who were on spot assessment of the rural electrification project in Oyam district found that some poles were rotten and had given way with wires hanging making it dangerous for the lives of residents of the area.
The legislators’ verification exercise that covers the districts of Oyam, Luwero, Nakasongola and Masindi was guided by the Rural Electrification Agency.
A rotten electric pole gives way with wires hanging in one of the homesteads in Oyam district. PHOTO/ Francis Emorut
The lawmaker’s tour follows the audit queries raised by the Auditor General that power line connection as far as rural electrification is concerned hasn’t been extended to some parts of the districts earmarked according to the time schedule.
“We have seen some poles are there but the quality used is weak as you can see wires lying down,” Florence Namayanja the vice chairperson of the committee said.
Namayanja who is new on the committee is conserned that they (new members) have to own a report because the former leaders of the committee didn’t complete their report.
“We wanted to look at whether the contractors have extended power lines as expected. The former committee didn’t complete its work which has to be owned by us,” she told New Vision.
Members of the Parliamentary committee on commission and state enterprises in Oyam district to inspect the rural electrification project on Monday June 23, 2014. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
Namayanja’s sentiments were echoed by Ibrahim Semujju Nganda the chairperson of the committee.
“I am impressed at the rate of connectivity (power lines) in the district (Oyam) but the quality of poles is not good. It doesn’t reflect value for money,” Semuju said.
He also questioned the rationale of connecting power in long distances when people are not tapping it.
“We want to know how many people are connected to the pole that stretches long distances,” he said.
He however, lauded the rural electrification project saying it is good and warned that it should not be politicized.
“Rural electrification can be a good project with less political interference,” he said.
Semuju was backed by Oyam North MP, Crispus Ayena Odong who said the implementers of the project have so far done a commendable job.
“So far so good, if we continue at this pace 10 years from now all the places of the country will be connected with power,” Ayena said.
Responding to legislators concerns, Amaku Thom Abelle, the senior project engineer with Rural Electrification Agency blamed the poles suppliers for poor quality of poles.
“As way of mitigating against poor quality, the agency has decided to demand a warrant from poles supplier through the contractor,” Amaku explained.
Members of the Parliamentary committee on Commission and State Enterprises John Bosco Mubito (left) and Panadol Mugema sitting on a mat with residents of Oyam district during the inspection of the rural electrification project in the district on Monday June 23, 2014. PHOTO/ Francis Emorut
“The contractors must obtain a warrant from the pole supplier and the poles should be able to stand a test of time lasting 20 years.”
He also revealed that the agency is mooting the idea of using concrete poles which he said are too expensive to address the anomalies.
On the issue of connecting power lines in long distances with fewer people using it, Pamela Kusimba the agency’s communications officer explained that her agency has introduced revolving fund where the organization buys connection materials as an incentive for the populace to connect power to their homes.
“As an agency our mandate is to extend power to the furthest part of the country as outlined by the Vision 2040,” Kusimba said.