By Nicholas Wassajja and Violet Nabatanzi
SOME parts of Kampala are without electricity after a huge fire gutted a transformer unit in the suburb of Mulago on Thursday afternoon causing extensive damage and leaving colossal loses at Kampala North Substation.
The fire that lasted close to an hour is the second in a span of 11 months at the station, leaving the newly installed unit destroyed beyond repair.
According to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) publicist Kenneth Otim, “at around 2.30pm Kampala North Substation fire caught damaging transformer No.1 and partly affecting transformer No.5”.
“The fire could have also affected transformer No. 6. We are checking the extent of the damage on this transformer” Otim added.
The managing director UETCL Eriasi Kiyemba said only a new power unit of equal voltage can restore normal operations at the substation.
“The extent of the damage on this transformer is far reaching and I don’t think we can repair it. We just have to replace it and this will take time,” said Kiyemba.
This is the second fire to hit the transmission facility in the last 11 months. Photo by Enock Kakande
Kiyemba dispelled any assumptions that the cause of the fire was a weakness on their part as a company managing the station, citing that although the accurate cause could not be established instantly, equipment failure could not be ruled out.
He said that, “the weakness is not on our part but you know these machines are under power supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the year. So probably, the equipment failed to contain the pressure this time round but this is not a confirmed cause yet.”
Kiyemba also noted that further damage was avoided by sensor gadgets that detected the fire and switched off the other transformers.
“Although the UETCL substation maintenance team is currently investigating the cause of fire and creating alternative supply to the affected areas, we are immediately switching off transformer No.5 worth 132,000 of voltage to step down the 330,000 voltage of transformer No.1,” Kiyemba explained.
The blaze caused power cuts in many of Mulago's surrounding area including Mulago Hospital. Photo by Enock Kakande
By press time, management said not they were unable to switched back supply due to the extent of damage.
The police superintendent of Wandegeya Julius Tusingwire said that by arriving promptly at the scene, they managed to keep the surging crowds safe by refusing them to access the blazing premises. There were neither lives lost nor any causalities reported.
Meanwhile power supply at Mulago National Referral Hospital was been interrupted and the hospital is now using generators to supply power to all wards where patients are admitted.
The Mulago Hospital public relations officer Enock Kusasira told New Vision that; “we have three generators at the hospital and they are supplying power to all corners until power is restored.”
He however said fire outbreak has not affected the hospital’s budget because there is a budget for emergencies.
The areas which have been affected by the outrage include; Mulago Hospital, Wandegeya, Makerere Hill Road, Makerere University, Gadaffi Road, Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road, parts of Old Kampala, Kyadondo Road, Kikoni, Kawaala and Kasubi.
Others are Bwaise, Kalerwe, Kyebando, Kanyanya, Mpererwe, Komamboga, Namere, Tula, Lusanja, Kiteezi, Kalerwe, Bwaise, Kazo, Lugoba,Nabweru, Kibwa, Kawempe, ,Nsooba, Tufnel Drive, Kira road, Bukoto,Kamwokya, Muwafu road, Lumumba Avenue , Nakasero Road, part of Buganda Road, part of Kampala Road, Naalya, Kiwatule, Najjera, Kyanja, Kungu, Kisasi, Kulambiro, Kyanja, Kikaya, Komamboga, Kalinabiri, Martyrs Road and Minister’s Village among others.