The most affected by the power blackout are welders who say they incur heavy costs to operate on generators.
Small scale business operators in Kitgum district are feeling the pinch of unstable power. Umeme has only been supplying power to Kitgum district for only 12 hours each day, over the past three weeks. On some occasions, the district is left in a power blackout for three straight days leaving several business people stranded.
The most affected by the power blackout are welders who say they incur heavy costs to operate on generators. Chris Onen, who owns a welding business at Pager crescent, says his business has been hit hard by the constant power blackout. He explains that when they operate on the national grid, they spend only about shillings 100,000 to produce a single metallic door after buying all the raw materials.
Onen however alleges that once they operate on a generator the cost shoots up to over 200,000. He says the heavy production cost hits their profit margin because they sell business because they sell each door between 300,000 and 400,000 shillings. Onen says that their customers resort to cheaper products such as metallic products such as doors and windows whenever they proposal to increase their prices.
Onen appeals to Umeme to sort out the problem and save them from the heavy operational cost they incur when operating on generators. Janan Komakech, who operates a drinking Pub at Apollo Ground, says they are not spared either.
Komakech says operating on the national power grid is much cheaper compared to running on a generator.
He says that his monthly bill when he operates four fridges, a big music system and three television sets on power is about 70,000. Komakech says that he spends more than double the same amount when he operates on a generator. He wonders when the persistent power outage will end is that his business is not affected. Shamim Nakalema operates small paste grinding machine.
Nakalema says on a good day when the power is stable she earns about 50, 000 shillings. She says that she closes her business when there is no power because she can’t afford the costs of running a generator. Nakalema appeals to the management of the power distributors to sort out the situation so that their businesses can operate. Several other businesses are also complaining of the same problem.
The management of the Umeme Kitgum station has not yet explained the constant power blackout in the area. When URN visited the office several times on Tuesday, the manager, John Sentongo was not in the office. He is said to be in the field, supervising replacement of old poles that had become too weak to support the power lines.