Blackout At Soroti Nursing School Over UGX 29M Power Bill

1777 Views Soroti, Uganda

In short
Soroti Comprehensive Nursing School is in a power blackout for over a month now after Umeme disconnected the institution due to accumulated power bill estimated at 29 million shillings.

Soroti Comprehensive Nursing School is in a power blackout for over a month now after Umeme disconnected the institution due to accumulated power bill estimated at 29 million shillings.

The disconnection which was done on March 13 has affected both the staff and students, with the finalists currently doing their research work being hit most.

Some of the students who did not want to be named for fear of being expelled from school say they sneak of the school in the night to do research work at internet cafes in Soroti town while others go to friends and relatives homes for reading.

Some students say those who do not have money to go to the internet cafes to do research have to stay in the dormitory and sleep. The cafes in Soroti town charge 1000 shillings for 75 minutes and 500 shillings for 25 to 30 minutes.

One student now in her second year told URN the School generator is switched on for only two and half hours, from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm giving them little time for preps.  Prior to that, they used to switch on the school generator from 8:00 pm to 9:30 pm until the students complained.

The students also complain that the generator is very unreliable because it sometimes breaks down.
They claim that during day time they cannot access the computer lab due to lack of power.

Some employees of the school who talked to URN complained that the absence of power has stalled their work and that the school has to incur extra costs to pay for secretarial services like printing and photocopying.

Beatrice Anyumel, one of the members of the school Board of Governors, told URN that the school has been paying their bills and that the arrears are to be cleared by the Ministry of Education.

One staff member who preferred anonymity told URN that previously, government was paying for utility bills in all government nursing institutions until November last year, when they received a circular from the Ministry of Education instructing them to start paying for their utility bills.

Celina Bako, the Principal who is about two month old at the school, declined to comment on the issue of power but told URN to talk to the Ministry of Education officials.
Education Minister Jessica Alupo apologized for the lack of power at school when URN contacted her. Alupo said she was not aware about the issue but promised to take immediate action because power is also an instructional material just like a pen or book.

Richard Lubega, the Umeme Soroti and Mbale area manager, told URN that they served the school with the bill but he declined to give more information.

 

About the author

Salume Among
Salume Among is the Mbale URN bureau chief. Among has been a URN staff member since 2012.

Among started her career in 2000 as a freelance writer for Etop newspaper before starting to write for its mother paper, The New Vision. She also wrote for the Vision Group's XFM radio station from 2008 until she left to join URN.

Among has a keen interest in local politics having been a youth representative in the Soroti variously between 1996 and 2010. Among also regularly reports on health, education, the environment and sports.