•Says Niger, Benin Republics owe Nigeria N22.6bn in electricity bills
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has raised the alarm over rising deaths by electrocution in the country’s electricity market, saying at least three persons were electrocuted every week between the months of April and June 2019.
The NERC in its second quarter 2019 reports of activities in Nigeria’s electricity sector also explained that two international customers – Benin and Niger Republics, have not paid for power sent to them between January and June 2019, which amounted to N22.61 billion.
In the latest quarterly report, NERC stated that the health and safety practices of operators in the sector were on the decline.
The regulator said operators made 87 health and safety reports respectively in both first and second quarters of the year and that 10 out of the 87 reports were employees’ and third-party deaths by electrocution.
However, the regulator noted that in the second quarter where the operators reported another 87 health and safety incidents, the number of employees’ and third-party deaths by electrocution rose to 37, a whopping difference of 27 from the previous death figures.
It equally stated that electricity-related injuries sustained in the sector rose from seven that it was in the first quarter to 18 in the second quarter.
“The health and safety performance of the operators declined during the second quarter of 2019 as the number of deaths and injuries increased significantly from the preceding quarter.
“This implies that approximately three persons died of electrocution weekly in the second quarter of 2019,” the report stated.
On actions taken against this, the regulator said: “In line with its mandate to ensure licensees’ commitment to safe energy delivery, the commission, during the same period, commenced hearings on some of the incidences involving various health and safety breaches.”
It excused its inability to initiate enforcement actions against operators who may have compromised the industry’s safety standards, saying: “However, due to the complexity of many of the cases, enforcement actions and appropriate penalties in each case were yet to be finalised during the quarter under review.
“On the other hand, the commission continued to work on a framework for penalties and compensations guidelines in order to stop the utilities’ discretionary payment of compensations to victims or victims’ families.
“Moreover, in line with its strategic goals 2017-2020, the commission has continued to intensify efforts in implementing various safety programmes aiming at eliminating accidents in the industry.”
On debt owed the sector by its international customers – Société Nigérienne d’Electricité, Nigerien Electricity Society (NIGELEC) and Communauté Électrique du Bénin (Togo/Benin Bi-national Electricity Company – CEB Sakete), NERC said both countries owed N22.61 billion for supplies to them between January and June.
The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) currently manages the long-term diplomatic power sale agreement between Nigeria and CEB Sakete and NIGELEC, however, NERC explained that in the period under review, CEB Sakete owed N16.9 billion while NIGELEC owed N5.71 billion.