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My Yaka Chronicles,the beginning

By Vision Reporter

Added 9th July 2013 03:53 PM

I have always wanted to have the Yaka installed in my house. Yaka is the name the electricity distribution company Umeme gave its new pre-paid meter system. I have a few high placed friends in Umeme, and have begged, cajoled, even threatened them, just so I could get it.

I have always wanted to have the Yaka installed in my house. Yaka is the name the electricity distribution company Umeme gave its new pre-paid meter system. I have a few high placed friends in Umeme, and have begged, cajoled, even threatened them, just so I could get it.

By Kalungi Kabuye

I have always wanted to have the Yaka installed in my house. Yaka is the name the electricity distribution company Umeme gave its new pre-paid meter system. I have a few high placed friends in Umeme, and have begged, cajoled, even threatened them, just so I could get it.


I’ve dreamt about having the Yaka at home. I was tired of erratic bills, and rude men who disconnect you without warning. I was tired of lining up in banks to pay the bills, and really dreaded having to go to the regional offices in Banda, where it always seemed the wretched of the gathered to complain about their small little ills. I really liked the idea of a faceless Umeme.

Last week, Yaka was finally installed in my house, but it was not quite the paradise I had envisioned. Two weeks ago I received a message that they will be coming to install it, and asked that I be present. So that Wednesday I informed my company would be working from home as I wait for the Yaka guys, but they never showed up.

Four days later as I was about to leave for work four guys in blue overalls show up, but no, they had not come to install Yaka, they were ‘just checking’ the area. I will be told when they come to install it.

Last Thursday, sometime in the afternoon the security guy at home called, and said the Yaka guys were there. I could not leave whatever I was doing so asked him to tell them not to put the meter in the living room, but in the kitchen.

I got home that night with a good feeling, at long last my dream had come true, I had Yaka. Then I noticed that they had indeed put the meter in the living room, not in the kitchen as I had asked.

But it was not a major set-back, and I checked the meter which had twenty-something units on it. The security guy said I had to take the card to the Banda office for activation, otherwise I would not be able to load any Yaka time.

The next morning, Friday, I noticed the metre was reading 16 units, which seemed a bit strange; surely I had not used all that power in just one night! Any way I planned to get my card activated, and all will be fine.

When I got to Banda in the afternoon, the ‘system was down’, which means the card could not be activated, and I could not load Yaka time. So what happens if the units run out and I can’t load? I was assured the 16 units will see me through till at least Saturday.

They did, but barely. By the time I went back to Banda there were only 4 units left, and the meter was making so much noise it sounded like an alarm, which I suppose it was, kind of.

But the card was dully activated, and I bought units worth sh20,000, to see how far those would go and maybe estimate how much I needed to buy for the month. I had about 40 units, in total, on Saturday afternoon.

A day later, Sunday afternoon, they were down to 14. But at least I got to watch Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso drive superbly in the British Grand Prix, and later witness Brazil hand Spain a few footballing lessons.

By the time I let Monday morning the count was down to 4, and planned to buy some more when I got back home. I left office late, but knew Tuskys in Ntinda stayed open and they have a Payway which sold Yaka time.

But again, ‘system was down’, and I should try the next day. I tried Capital Shoppers but they didn’t sell Yaka, and nobody else did in Ntinda.

It was darkness at home that night, but all would be well in the morning. But the system was still down at Tuskys, and another supermarket down the road. The only option left to me was to go to Banda, again.
 
But I wanted to know if the system there was also down before I left, so I called the Umeme helpline. The girl I talked to asked me to go to Banda where I would be ‘assisted’.

I told her I didn’t want to be assisted, but to know whether the ‘system was down’ or not. In the end she gave me the office landline, which of course nobody answered.

Meanwhile I was being advised by all and sundry to use mobile money, but the MTN Menu on my phone did not have the Pay Bills option, and I had forgotten the PIN number for my Mobile Banking, and it had been locked. So off I went to Banda and bought more Yaka time.

When I got back my neighbours were waiting for me, apparently when I went off they too went off. When I loaded the Yaka time, they went back on, that is when we realised that they had been using my power.

The technicians that installed my Yaka had connected both two houses to my power, but had not told any of us.

A phone call to the Area Manager very quickly brought a swarm of Umeme guys, and the engineers were shocked by the quality of work done (the installation was outsourced).

One of them called the guys that had done the job, and they were sheepish in trying to explain what they did. What they could not explain was why they had connected the other two houses to my power.

But it is all sorted now, the neighbours have their own Yaka, my phone can now pay bills, and I don’t want to ever see any Umeme guy at my place again.
 

My Yaka Chronicles,the beginning

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