In a recent court ruling that can only be described as electrifying, Uganda’s biggest power distributor, Umeme, has been ordered to pay a staggering Shs500 million in damages to a seven-year-old child. The young victim met his shocking fate six years ago when he was electrocuted by sagging power wires in his neighborhood.
High Court judge Phillip Odoki, in his rather shocking verdict delivered on Wednesday, pointed a not-so-subtle finger at Umeme’s negligence. He noted that Umeme failed miserably in ensuring that a loose electricity transmission wire in the child’s neighborhood was promptly removed, thus resulting in the tragic electrocution.
Justice Odoki, in what can only be described as a shocking twist, detailed the gruesome aftermath of the electrocution. The child was flung into the air repeatedly, like a circus performer, crashing into the ground multiple times. He endured trauma and sustained grievous bodily harm across his young body, including a shocking injury to his scalp. The ultimate shocker – his left dominant arm was amputated at the shoulder.
With a rather straight face, Justice Odoki stated, “Although the physical injuries healed, the plaintiff will continue to suffer mental distress for the rest of his life and he will not be able to do certain things on his own. I therefore consider that general damages of Shs500m is appropriate in the circumstance.” Well, isn’t that a shocker?
But that’s not the end of this electrifying tale. The judge, in a move that must have sent shockwaves through Umeme’s financial department, also ordered them to pay the suit’s costs and slapped on an interest rate of 15 percent per annum until the shocking damages are paid in full. Ouch!
According to court documents, the shocking incident occurred on May 6, 2017, at the child’s parent’s home in Kasange Ward, Kyengera Town Council, Wakiso District. It was a shockingly simple problem – a live electricity transmission wire hanging loose on a fallen electric pole.
The child, too young to pursue legal action himself, sought justice through his ally, Mr. Mike Katende. Umeme, in their defence, tried to play it cool, claiming they always do their job professionally and ensure public safety. They even had the nerve to assert that they regularly check their electricity poles. However, the court wasn’t buying it, and Justice Odoki delivered the shocking revelation that their last inspection in the area had been a shocking five months ago.
As for the child’s initial shocking compensation request of Shs6 billion (yes, billion with a ‘b’), it included the need for a prosthetic arm costing a shocking $100,000 (equivalent to a shocking Shs366 million). Apparently, the young victim anticipated needing a shocking total of four prosthetic arms in his lifetime, amounting to a shocking Shs1.4 billion. That’s a lot of shocks for Umeme to absorb.
Summary – Umeme’s shocking negligence has left them with a shocking bill. Shockingly, they’ll have to pay Shs500 million, plus costs, and endure the shocking zing of a 15 percent annual interest rate. This shocking case serves as a shocking reminder that electricity and negligence don’t mix well – it’s a recipe for shocking consequences.