Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has pledged to investigate the cause of another electricity accident in which three persons died and over five people injured when a transformer reportedly exploded in a densely populated suburb of Lugbe area of Abuja.
NERC’s acting Head, Dr. Anthony Akah, who met with victims of the accident last weekend at Lugbe Tudun Wada, said the commission would undertake a thorough investigation of the incident.
He said appropriate sanctions would be imposed against the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) if it was found guilty of breaching existing operational procedure in its supply of electricity to the suburb.
Akah, however, directed the Disco to immediately take up the medical care for the injured victims of the accident. He told reporters that AEDC had reported three deaths and several degrees of burns from the accident.
Leading an investigative team to the area which has a very poorly planned electrical infrastructure and populated with over 5,000 residents, Akah said he was there to commiserate with families of the victims in addition to his assessment of the damages.
It was gathered that the conductor of the exploded transformer had snapped, causing power surge and the accident in the community that is less than two kilometres from the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Estate in Lugbe.
Further checks by reporters also showed that most of the households within the suburb were illegally connected to AEDC’s distribution grid using poor quality cables and equipment.
Also a large chunk of the settlement, including a mini-market also stretched across the double 330KV/132KV transmission lines of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which supply electricity from two power stations in Geregu, Kogi State – NIPP Geregu and Geregu Power Plant.
Speaking with reporters, one of the residents alleged that original settlers of the suburb had been compensated by the government before the transmission towers were erected but many chose to remain and even built houses under the high tension zone.
The resident also stated that AEDC was aware of such anomaly but had continued to supply power to and generate revenue from customers in the suburb. He said the Disco did not consider cleaning up the poorly-wired suburb.
Another resident, Sunny Adu narrated how the incident occurred. He said: “We were just around the transformer when the conductor at the pole snapped and went into flames. A house behind it was affected as Peter Haruna’s pregnant wife and child sustained serious burns.”
“Three persons including a 22 year old boy, Joseph Terver died, over five others sustained serious burns from over seven houses some metres away from the transformer,” added Adu.
It was also learnt that most of the survivors were paying for their medical treatments, but NERC had asked Abuja Disco to assume the payment and also recompense those who had made such payments.
“We want you to take all the survivors to the National Hospital or the best medical facility for immediate treatment today (Saturday) and not Monday. You must also refund to them the expenses they have incurred so far,” Akah told AEDC’s Director Regulatory Affairs, Abimbola Odubiyi.
He also told the victims to contact NERC if AEDC failed to obey its directive to take up their medical treatments.
“AEDC said they have gotten the survivors’ names and have taken over their medical attention from today. Their officials will follow them to the hospitals of their choice.
“Our investigation team will come back and conduct an assessment into what happened and develop strategies to prevent the reoccurrence,” Akah added.
He further stated: “We will investigate it and if we found that AEDC failed to provide safe power, we will apply the appropriate sanction and ensure compensation is duly paid. We will also ensure that AEDC improve on the infrastructures supplying power to your community.”
Abuja had earlier been fined million as compensation by NERC for similar occurrences in two other areas under its service.