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UMEME Ordered To Pay 500m In Damages

UMEME Ordered To Pay 500m In Damages

The Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala has directed   power supplier, Umeme Limited to pay shs500 million in damages to the family of a seven-year-old boy who was electrocuted by sagging electricity wires.

Court documents show that on May, 6, 2017, the minor who was at his parent’s home in Kasanje ward, Kyengera town council in Wakiso district was electrocuted by a live electricity transmission wire which was hanging loose on an electric pole that fell.

The documents show that whereas UMEME had earlier been informed of the sagging wire on a rotten pole, the electricity distribution company ignored the reports and eventually, the minor was electrocuted leading to head injuries and his left arm was amputated.

Through a friend Mike Katende, the minor filed a suit against Umeme Limited over negligence and asked for ssh6 billion in compensation.

In his judgement, justice Phillip Odoki reasoned with the minor that there was negligence by Umeme that saw him get electrocuted.

“It is the duty of the defendant (Umeme) to ensure that the electricity distribution infrastructure was well maintained at all times. The defendant did not need to wait until it was informed that the pole was about to fall in order to come and fix it. Although the defendant pleaded that it carries out its duties and operations in a lawful and professional manner to ensure public safety

and that it carries out regular maintenance and checks to ensure that all its electricity poles are in good working condition, no evidence was adduced to support that pleading,” Justice Odoki said.

The judge reasoned that a medium voltage line inspection summary report that Umeme’s legal team tendered in court as proof of inspection of their power lines indicated that the last month of inspection had been done in December, five months before the incident happened in May, 2017.

He said the power distributor failed in its duty to carry out inspection and maintenance of the power lines as they are supposed to and this put lives of people in danger.

“Therefore, if indeed the defendant (Umeme) was doing any regular maintenance and checks of the electricity pole as alleged, it would have easily discovered the falling pole and electric wires and would have averted the injury that the plaintiff suffered.”

The judge also rubbished claims by Umeme that the space of time when the pole and the wire fell down was so short that as to infer sufficient probability to lead a reasonable man to anticipate danger or injury.

“Clearly, the electricity pole took some time before it gave way. Had the defendant carried out its distribution of electricity mandate in a safe way and monitored its transmission pole and wires, the plaintiff would not have been injured. I therefore find that the defendant failed in its duty towards the plaintiff to ensure that the electricity pole did not fall and the electricity wires did not become loose, thereby electrocuting the plaintiff.”

The judge therefore condemned Umeme Limited to shs500 million in damages to the minor and a 15% per annum interest from the date of judgement until the full amount is paid.

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