Contractors must be competent to deliver in line with specifications and standards, writes Ofem Uket

The federal government has again stated that it will not hesitate to prosecute defaulters and non-compliant power and electrical contractors not genuinely certified by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) saying government must strengthen the enforcement of its laws for proper regulatory services to improve power supply.

It said there have been all kinds of power and electrical contractors not certified, using sub-standard materials to wire residential, office areas and complexes thereby subjecting users and consumers of electricity to fire outbreaks and disaster leading to loss of lives and property.

The Managing Director of Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency and Chief Electrical Inspector of the Federation, Engr Peter O. Ewesormade in an exclusive media interface, reeled out federal government new guidelines and regulations directed at ensuring that local and foreign contractors in the electricity industry must be competent to deliver in line with specifications and standards. He said the agency will continue to enforce technical standards and regulations to sustain and maintain specifications of electric and construction guidelines as it carries out inspectorate services, with government readiness to launch new guidelines for mini-grid electricity being developed by its development partners through a support programme.

“The Federal Government shall not hesitate to prosecute and punish offenders and defaulters refusing to comply with the guidelines and regulations, not minding status and who is involved, especially at this point when major and indeed all players in the industry are monitored closely to ensure efficiency and capability to deliver”.

To play out fully on electricity technical control, the agency said it shall consistently organize seminars and conferences of stakeholders and the general public to sensitize and create awareness on the policy trust and guidelines of the power sector reforms with specific attention to the operations of NEMSA.

However, certification in the power sector is a global trend, taking into account the fact that the execution of electricity projects, which includes installations, wiring etc., are highly technical and requires competence in the sector so as to eliminate all forms of barriers created by quacks in the industry.

Ewesor said no contractor will be allowed to carry out electrical installation without being certified by the agency, adding that the process of screening is conducted by the board of the agency composed of members with high technical capacity, though membership is drawn from across the public service including technocrats. According to him, Nigerians are fully aware of the fact that only qualified and certified contractors should be engaged in the services of installations and wiring of both residential and office buildings. Stressing that contractors are divided into four major categories which of course require certain criteria to qualify into each of the categories outlined.

Clearly, NEMSA is empowered by the provisions of the law to ensure efficient protection of electrical installations, ensure safety, certification of equipment, conducting test to confirm the standard of equipment, before acceptability within the sector. It can be installation of meters, transformers and other power stations equipment as may be required.

Ironically, the power sector reforms have suffered huge setbacks before the coming of this administration. This prompted the present government to look into the activities and operations of the sector, with a view to engaging the services of competent and technical expertise to generate, transmit and distribute the amount of electricity that can be near adequate for consumers.

The result of this reforms among sectorial agencies of government involved in the network of the supply of electricity to consumers is the over 5, 000 megawatts that is currently being distributed for the very first time in the history of the country, where only about 3, 700 megawatts are distributed.

This success, however, can be said to be marginal as the country is said to be near adequate when it generates, transmits and distributes about 25, 000 megawatts, considering the huge population of the country.

There is high demand for the supply of electricity in Nigeria more than any other African country and some countries in Europe because of the peculiarity of the environment, where most of the people are technicians, artisans and small machinery utilization firms scattered all around the country.

Statistics show that there are over three million micro-industries in automobile sector alone across the country, needing steady supply of electricity, and at the moment the only means of power to processing micro-industries is the use of generator which has resulted into spending more money in the purchase of diesel and petrol, thereby increasing the cost of production, which has a corresponding increase in the cost of goods and services.

It has therefore become economically, socially and politically expedient to boost generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, to catch up with desired increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The federal government in collaboration with the state government must invest heavily on electricity to address the challenges of low productivity in our industries.

Unfortunately, state governments have demonstrated lack of interest and focus in the setting up and developing independent power plants that can contribute to stability in the supply of electricity; the states have always relied on the federal government to spoon-feed it, thereby inflicting heavy yoke and burden on the national economy.