Police has closed UMEME offices in Masaka and ordered workers to return home, hours after anti riot police clashed with anti load shedding protesters. On Friday morning, anti riot police were forced to shoot in the air and fire teargas to disperse a group of traders and opposition politicians who took to the streets to protest what they called worsening power outage.
On Friday morning, anti riot police were forced to shoot in the air and fire teargas to disperse a group of traders and opposition politicians who took to the streets to protest what they called worsening power outage.
The demonstrators led by Peter Mutesasira, the former Masaka Parliamentary candidate, and Meddie Lutaaya, the Masaka FDC youth leader carried placards with statements calling for the disbandment and termination of UMEME contract.
Some messages on the placards demanded for the immediate sacking of Kirunda Magoola, the UMEME branch Manager for Masaka whom they accuse of arrogance and incompetence.
They also accused UMEME and the government of sabotaging health service delivery in Kitovu and Masaka Hospitals, where surgical operations have been suspended due to power outage.
But just as they attempted to storm UMEME offices along Masaka-Kampala Highway, anti riot police fired teargas and live bullets to disperse the protesters. The protesters mostly FDC youths responded by pelting police with stones. The protesters also blocked Masaka-Nyendo road paralyzing traffic.
The protesters also threatened to torch UMEME offices forcing police to order the workers to return home. Andrew Sorowen, the Special Operations Commander says police ordered UMEME workers to go home because their stay in offices was angering the protesters.
Sorowen says police is maintaining security at the offices until power is restored to calm the tension.
Mutesasira however says they have set up a committee to mobilize another demonstration slated for Monday next week. He says Friday’s protest was short-lived because several traders shunned it. He now says they are targeting ten thousand people for the Monday protests.
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Meanwhile, George Wamboko, the UMEME engineer has attributed the persistent load shedding on transformer vandalism. He claims several of their transformers have been vandalized by thugs. He says UMEME has so far arrested five suspects for transformer vandalism.
He identifies some of the suspects as Richard Ssempijja, Richard Ssendi, Umar Mpiima, and Emmanuel Luwaga who are accused of being behind the racket of thugs vandalizing transformers to siphoning oil.
The suspects are being held at Masaka Central Police Station.