House to Investigate NEMSA over Negligence of Electricity Safety

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Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The House of Representatives has mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the capacity of the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) to adequately carry out its mandate on electricity safety in the distribution network as well as the overall effectiveness of the Nigerian electricity supply industry, given the vast investment in the power sector.

It also resolved to investigate the incidences of deaths and accidents caused by the negligence of electrical safety in the distribution network in the country as well as safety measures, including the existence and role of safety departments of Discos

The House accordingly mandated the NEMSA and other relevant agencies to recover already built-up right of way and ensure strict compliance to all requisite and applicable setbacks.

These resolutions followed the adoption of a motion on the need to ensure safety in the electricity distribution network raised by Hon. Sani Bala during plenary yesterday.

Bala noted that Section 6 paragraph (a) and (f) of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency Act, No.

6, 2015 mandates the agency to carry out electrical inspectorate services for the Nigerian electricity supply industry and enforce compliance with safety requirements for construction, operation and maintenance of electrical power plants, transmission system, distribution networks and electric installations.

Adding that in the last quarter of 2018, a report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) indicated that there were 136,393 complaints from customers about the negligence of the Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) which had jumped to 151,938 in the first quarter of 2019.

According to him, the negligence of electricity safety is increasingly claiming lives and causing injuries to both electricity sector workers and others with reports by the NERC alleging that approximately two persons died of electrocution every fortnight during the fourth quarter of 2019, as compared to the third quarter where roughly three persons died of electrocution fortnightly.

According to him, “The death rates arising from the electricity safety negligence in Nigeria are gradually equating the recurring newspaper headlines of death rates from insurgency, banditry and communal clashes.”

He further revealed that there are

numerous tragedies caused by disregard for municipal laws in the siting of residences and recreational centres around electric installations under high tension wires, near electric poles or transformers, thereby exposing residents to danger.

“Apart from dangling high tension cables and vast evidence of unprotected transformers and electricity infrastructure in communities, there are also allegations of expiration of the life span of the infrastructure being major causes of surges and eventual explosions.

“Despite launching the Nigerian Electrical Installations and Construction Guideline Manual (NEICGM) to guide contractors and power sector operators on the installation and construction of electricity infrastructure in the country, more than one year later, the agency has not matched words with action in a bid to enshrining electricity safety as accidents, deaths and injuries have persisted under the sector,” Baba said.

However, the lawmakers mandated its Committee on Legislative Compliance to ensure implementation.