Paul Mayambala and Raymond Baguma
THE Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) has begun a month-long exercise to demolish structures constructed under the high voltage transmission lines stretching from Bujagali and Nalubaale power plants.
Erias Kiyimba, the UETCL chief executive officer said the structures along the 220kv Bujagali-Kawanda, as well as the 132kv Kawanda-Mutundwe transmission lines corridor block access for routine maintenance works.
“The owners were compensated during construction and we spent about sh44 billion on the compensation in 2007 but they don’t want to vacate; while others sell to unsuspicious buyers. Now we have to ensure that they vacate as a permanent solution. Everybody was compensated and we are exercising our role to secure the areas,” Kiyimba told journalists at UETCL offices in Kampala.
These transmission lines carry high voltages which if messed up, can lead to loss of life and property, according to Kiyimba. He said that the high voltage transmission lines require a distance of between 20-40 metres, which is determined by the line’s voltage levels.
He said Section 87 of the Electricity Act of 1999 criminalizes encroachment within the high voltage installations and way leaves corridors, punishable by imprisonment or fines determined by courts.
Kiyimba also said that UETCL had agreed with the Kampala Capital City Authority’s physical planning committee not to approve any development plans that may affect the transmission company’s installations.
The company has procured a contractor to implement the demolition exercise of permanent houses as well as temporary structures. The property owners were issued with notices to vacate ahead of the demolition which began yesterday (Tuesday). Some of the properties earmarked for demolition include car depots, residential houses as well as concrete product manufacturers.
The areas to be affected are located in Nakawa, Bwaise, Mulago, Namungoona, Mutundwe, Ndeeba, Bukoto, Naguru, Kyambogo and Nateete. Other areas are in Wakiso and Mukono districts.
Musa Kabandize, the contractor to demolish the structures carried out an eviction in Mukono district after the expiry of a notice ordering the house occupants to vacate. An earthmover demolished a house belonging to one Kibuto, a resident of Natonko village in Goma Sub County, amid tight police security.
However, during the demolition, a collapsing wall destroyed an adjacent house belonging to an elderly woman identified as Alice Kantono. Kenneth Otim, the UETCL public relations officer said that the company would compensate for Kantono’s affected house.
Kiyimba said they had also notified car depot operators in the areas of Kyambogo and Lugogo to vacate and the company plans to erect boundary markers along its power transmission corridors to secure the high voltage lines.
He also noted that in Kampala areas, some high voltage towers are in danger of collapse, while power sub stations are on the verge of being submerged in water whenever it rains because of filling of surrounding wetlands with soil.
Martin Erone, the UETCL corporate affairs manager said that the company has records to show that everybody was compensated. He noted that the Lugogo-Nalubaale power transmission line has been most affected by encroachers especially in the areas of Bukoto and Mulago.