KAMPALA: Buganda Road Utility Court has sentenced two men to months in jail after they were convicted of vandalizing and stealing water meters belonging to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).
The two, Shafik Katongole and Frank Ngabwa, recently appeared, separately, before magistrates at the Kampala-based court after they were arrested by enforcement teams that included NWSC staff from Water Loss Prevention Unit (WALOPU) and officers of Uganda Police Force (UPF), working closely with members of the public.
Katongole committed the crime in Namugongo while Ngabwa stole the meters in Kiwogola, Kira Municipality in Wakiso District. The duo pleaded guilty to the offences of stealing NWSC water meters.
Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu sentenced Katongole to three months in prison.
Marion Mangeni, Kamasanyu’s colleague, from the same Buganda Road Utility Court sentenced Ngabwa to 12 months imprisonment.
NWSC welcomed the sentences handed to Katongole and Ngabwa. The utility, one of the most efficiently run government entities, categorizes water theft and equipment vandalism as economic crimes because of the losses they cause the leading corporation.
This is because these offences do not only mean that the Eng Dr Silver Mugisha-led corporation will have to spend money making repairs or replacements of stolen or vandalized equipment but water supply to customers will also be disrupted, inconveniencing them. Persistent water theft and vandalism also increase the cost of enforcement.
Every month, NWSC loses Shs2bn in water theft in Kampala alone while Shs5bn is lost in the entire country, according to recent estimates by the water corporation.
With enforcement teams making arrests, and the Utility Court, established in 2017, handing sentences to economic criminals like Katongole and Ngabwa, NWSC hopes that some Ugandans who had intentions of stealing or vandalizing its water infrastructure and equipment will think twice. NWSC MD Eng Dr Mugisha and his team have warned of tough action against vandals and thieves as well as unscrupulous staff engaged in theft of water through facilitating illegal connections.