What do you do when you have free electricity supply with no responsibility of paying power bills?
Faustin (not real name) recently found himself with free unlimited electricity supply without asking for it.
Days after moving into a rental house in Kicukiro, he discovered that the electricity meter doesn’t work and guarantees him constant electricity supply without requiring him to pre-pay like most domestic users do.
For three months, he had free uninterrupted power supply. But he was wary of the unusual occurrence and decided to move elsewhere for fear of the repercussions.
A spot check by Saturday Times, showed that he is not alone, a number of electricity users across the city have not spent money on the utility for months and have had uninterrupted supply.
Most of them who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity said that they have not tampered with the meters and suspect that the devices are faulty.
“Ever since I moved into my rental house, I have always had power and my meter has always read 0.00,” one the users told Saturday Times.
The situation is not isolated in one area with clients from all across the city highlighting the trend.
Commenting on the issue, Wilson Karegeya, the Energy Utility Corporation Limited Director for commercial services told this paper that they were currently unaware of such meters currently installed in clients’ homes.
He however said that meters being machines were prone to technical faults which could affect their functioning.
Karegeya added that in the event clients notice that their meters and other installations are not functioning as expected, they should contact a nearby utility office for technical support.
“As a utility company, we expect that if any of our clients notice any such challenges, they should not hesitate to reach us for us to conduct repairs and or replacements,” Karegeya told this paper.
He said that no punishments or fines will be imposed on clients who come forward voluntarily to report faulty meters.
He said that the utility company has inbuilt measures and mechanisms to track such incidences including recording and following up on meters installed to monitor for reduced efficiency.
In 2014, the firm conducted an exercise to replace old meters and was set to soon launch Smart Meters.
The new devices he said will be able to ‘communicate’ to the firms back end system if tampered with or if it stops functioning as expected.
He however pointed out that there were also cases of bypassing or manipulation of installations to defraud the utility.
The utility company uses a team of inspectors to conduct inspections on their installations.
‘By-passers’ caught having manipulated the installations with intention to defraud the company are fined 1 Million for domestic users and 10 million for businesses, industries and firms.
“Other than the fine, we calculate and backdate what the client ought to have paid for the unmetered consumption and charge them before re-installation,” he said.
The utility body, especially when it was still part of the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA), has been faulted by the Office of the Auditor General, for making exorbitant losses.
However, there was no recorded loss attributed to consumption of unmetred electricity.