By Dominic Ochola
High Court Judge Musa Ssekaana has rallied members of the Electricity Disputes Tribunal – EDT to exhibit a high level of independence while arbitrating disputes that arise from the electricity sector in the country.
Established in 2003 under section 94 of the Electricity Act, the Tribunal is charged with a quasi-judicial mandate to hear, mediate, arbitrate and adjudicate electricity disputes (save for criminal matters) between different consumers and entities responsible for the generation, transmission and supply of electricity.
Justice Ssekaana was addressing the eight-members of the specialized Tribunal, an autonomous body with powers of the high court that was instituted by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development during an induction on Tuesday at Silver Springs Hotel in Kampala.
Citing rampant wrongs being committed in the country with impunity, the Judge underscored the need for the Tribunal to dispense ‘natural justice’ in determining rights of all parties in the disputes before them by following ‘procedural fairness’ in order to build public confidence.
Charles Okoth-Owor, the Tribunal’s Chairperson disclosed that currently, the Tribunal is handling over 300 disputes at different stages, adding that since 2006, the Tribunal has successfully resolved over 1,700 disputes relating to licensing and tariff issues; compensation and consumer related complaints.
Owor, a former advocate of the High Court and founding President of the Uganda Christian Lawyers Fraternity-UCLF is being deputized by Anacelet Turyakira. The Tribunal has largely been inactive despite being in existence for at least 20 years.
Other members to the tribunal are; Eng. Dr. Terry Kahuma, a former Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards – UNBS, now the Dean of Science and Technology at Victoria University, Christine Muhindo, the presidential advisor in charge of Rwenzori region, Harriet Wanyoto, Judy Mike Mudooma, Eng. Paul Mubiru and Sylvia Cheptoris, the registrar.
The disputes that the Tribunal has been resolving involve consumers and key energy actors that include; Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited – UEDCL, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited – UETCL, Electricity Regulatory Authority – ERA, UMEME, independent power producers and promoters.
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