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Planning to connect power? Beware of ‘kamyufu’ conmen

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th December 2008 03:00 AM

IT would pass for a horror movie script in a film training academy. The only difference here is that it is real. A collection of bad guys called kamyufu are conning innocent customers through illegal power connections.

IT would pass for a horror movie script in a film training academy. The only difference here is that it is real. A collection of bad guys called kamyufu are conning innocent customers through illegal power connections.

By Kikonyogo Ngatya

IT would pass for a horror movie script in a film training academy. The only difference here is that it is real. A collection of bad guys called kamyufu are conning innocent customers through illegal power connections.

They have either worked as UMEME staff before and got sacked for their illicit behaviour, or have relatives inside the power supplier. The kamyufus sit outside Umeme offices waiting for their next victim.

They have mastered the bureaucracy inside the power house to their advantage. Even at Kavule roundabout in Kampala where Umeme offices shifted from a building some three years back, the kamyufus still hang there all daylong.

Umeme has a ten point programme they call “10 easy steps to a power connection.” But it is so bureaucratic that I am considering taking early retirement from work to process a domestic power connection for one of my properties in Gayaza.

Because of the bureaucracy to process a new power connection many people fall victim to this scam. I was recently duped by these bad guys while connecting power to one of my properties in Gayaza.

“Getting a power connection is part of your work. If you claim you are busy, you will be reaped off by conmen,” says Aloysius Onyait, a senior security officer attached to the Umeme office in Kampala Industrial Area.

He says everyday, he receives about five complaints from people who have been conned by kamyufus. But, he was shocked when I gave him a picture of some of these people who had removed car number plates and went on rampage, disconnecting homes in Kasana-Luweero district, with intention to extort money from customers. Umeme’s public relations officer, Robert Kisubi says:

“We are running adverts advising our clients against paying money to make shortcuts in the power connection procedures. Many people have been conned, but these people are not our staff.”

He says crime can be fought when the public is willing to report the conmen. He, however, notes that some people secretly pay kamyufus to make illegal power connections and end up being fleeced of their money.

When I consulted Umeme office on First Street in Kampala, they said a power wiring certificate from their own staff must be acquired first. But almost all the kamyufus from Kavule have these licenses in their bags.

They convinced me that power could be connected within a week and that the cost for this is slightly higher than the official figure. By June this year, Umeme had replaced or installed over 1,200 transformers and put up over 38,000 poles, thus improving efficiency.

Before taking over from the Uganda Electricity Board, half of these areas had blown transformers and their poles were either rotten or leaning. For new customers with newly constructed premises, there is a procedure that has to be followed before power can be connected.

A customer must hire a competent contractor to wire the house. The contractor will issue the client with a wiring certificate. The customer must then fill an application form, attach a passport size photograph, wiring certificate and Tax Identification Number.

He or she will be given an application form to insert details such as name, zone, type of service; whether domestic, commercial or otherwise, telephone number and so on.

The photo and certificate will be attached to this form. The customer is also required to sign a declaration form at the back of the application form. This form states the conditions of supply. It takes about two working days to process the form.

The customer pays an inspection fee of sh40,000. The installation inspector or surveyor visits the site to verify whether the wiring conforms to the required standards.

This takes about three days. After 12 working days, the customer will be informed to come and pay for the service. Currently, the fee stands at sh 197,000 (capital contribution) and sh100,000 (security deposit).

But this is only if a pole is not required. For one-pole service, the amount is sh323,200 (capital contribution) and sh100,000 (security deposit). An account number will be issued in respect of the payments.

Planning to connect power? Beware of ‘kamyufu’ conmen

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