We Can’t Keep Electricity On! [editorial]

There was a sense of deacutejagrave vu on Wednesday night when, deep into the second half of the football game between Uganda Cranes and Guinea at the Mandela National stadium, Namboole, floodlights suddenly went out.

The estimated 25,000 fans were left stunned as darkness descended onto the stadium for about eight minutes. Yet this was not the first time this was happening at the same stadium. During a Cecafa match between Uganda and Kenya in 2012, the floodlights, again, failed and the game stopped for a while.

How can it be that the organisers were not able to prevent this from happening? How can it be that they didn’t learn from the last similar incident? How can it be that it takes a whole eight minutes for a generator to be switched on?

This is not only embarrassing for the country, it is also potentially dangerous, as resulting commotion could be catastrophic. Yet to cut the organisers some slack, this national failure to keep lights on when they are most needed is not limited to sports. During the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (Chogm) in 2007, as many people were glued to their television sets, with UK’s Queen Elizabeth II giving her speech, it happened – a power cut prematurely ended the speech for television viewers.

More recently, when KCCA came up with plans to introduce cable cars, social media enthusiasts went into frenzied cynicism. Many people suggested that Uganda’s unreliable power supply would never allow such a transport system to work in Kampala.With incidents such as the Namboole power outage, such cynicism appears to be, sadly, justified.

This failure to keep lights on mirrors Uganda’s collective failure to have systems that work. It is unlikely that a country that can’t keep lights on for 90 crucial minutes can organise a decent election, ID registration or national census exercise. Instead, we settle for mediocrity rather than pursuing excellence – justifying our low standards by saying, ‘this is Uganda’.

A country’s level of organisation and planning has a lot to say about its progress. On Wednesday night’s evidence, Uganda has a long way to go.

Source : The Observer

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