and Donald Kiirya
RESIDENTS of Bugembe town council in Jinja district yesterday barricaded the Jinja-Malaba highway with boulders, burning tyres and tree stumps, protesting a three-week power blackout.
A policeman firing teargas canisters at rioting residents in Bugembe town council yesterday.
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The confusion, which disrupted traffic flow, erupted at around 8:00am, with residents accusing Umeme, the power company, of unjustifiably removing the only transformer that served the area.
Some residents were heard saying the transformer was removed to punish them for the numerous illegal connections, which the firm had failed to curb.
Two UPDF soldiers from Gadaffi barracks, who were caught up in the melee, fired live bullets in the air.
The rioters were, however, undeterred by the shootings and attacked them with stones.
One of the soldiers, identified as Rashid Terikya, was hit by a stone in the face, just below the right eye, making him bleed heavily.
Terikya was rushed to Bugembe Modern Clinic and later to the main hospital.
The Jinja Police boss, Jonathan Musinguzi, arrived with a contingent of anti-riot policemen who rocked the skyline with rubber bullets.
They also fired teargas canisters into the rowdy crowds that kept throwing stones at them.
Two Umeme officials were saved by the Police.
Other victims included presidential candidate Samuel Lubega, whose convoy got caught up in the demonstration.
Lubega, who is contesting as an independent candidate, was heading to Namayingo district for his campaigns.
He was held up briefly as the local Police joined hands with his presidential Police escorts to clear the way. Calm returned to the area after a three-hour battle.
Julius Balamu, the acting Umeme district manager, said the transformer was removed because its capacity was inadequate to supply the area.
He also said according to their statistics, the same transformer would have been enough to supply their legitimate clients.
Last evening, Umeme engineers installed a new transformer in the area under tight security, but by press time, power had not been reconnected.
Umemeâ€™s corporate communications manager, Charlotte Kemigyisha, said the transformer was removed to ensure safety.
She said Umeme would improve the power supply system by installing two new transformers and a new high voltage line.
â€œWe appeal to the people to be patient because our goal is to ensure a steady power connection. We donâ€™t want our clients to be off power supply,â€ Kemigyisha added.
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Bugembe riots over electricity cuts