Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
At least 37 Nigerians lost their lives in electricity-related accidents between January and March 2022, a new report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), has indicated.
In all, NERC in the report, noted that the commission received 78 reports on health and safety issues, with the total number of incidents being 55, while 18 Nigerians sustained various injuries as a result.
Recently, Nigeria’s power sector safety regulatory body, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), said it was ramping up a nationwide audit of facilities to curb the use of substandard materials, which sometimes increase the rate of accidents.
Head of the organisation, Mr Aliyu Tahir, noted that more testing and certification of electrical materials and equipment was being carried out nationwide to ensure that they are of quality and built to specifications.
He listed transformers, cables, conductors, concrete poles as some of the most critical in the sector.
“We will keep carrying out investigation of electrical accidents across the country to find out the causes, make recommendations to forestall these occurrences and we also carry out safety performance of these companies on a monthly basis,” he told THISDAY.”
But NERC stated that the commission had initiated new processes to track licensees’ compliance with the submission of statutory reports, stating that investigations had been launched into all reported accidents.
“The total number of incidents in 2022/Q1 was 55. There were 18 injuries and 37 deaths compared to the 40 incidents recorded in 2021/Q4, which were nine injuries and 31 deaths.
“The commission has launched investigations into all the incidents and will work with all sector stakeholders to improve the overall health and safety in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI),” NERC said in the report.
In accordance with the law, the commission added that it has continued to monitor the health and safety performance in the industry to guarantee the delivery of safe and reliable electricity to Nigerians.
For the period under review, NERC noted that some reports were still being expected, disclosing that the commission had developed new processes to track the submission of statutory reports.
“Sapele and Egbin Power have two outstanding reports each, while Yola DisCo, Agip power, Geregu power, Shell power and Shiroro power each have one outstanding report for 2022/Q1.
“The commission has developed new processes to track the submission of statutory reports, including the health and safety report, by licensees which will guide the implementation of relevant actions against licensees that do not meet their obligations,” the report said.
According to the organisation, the health and safety reports were analysed in line with the provisions of Section 32(1)(e) of the relevant law for monitoring and evaluating of health and safety performance of licensees to ensure that operators abide by their responsibility of delivering safe electricity services to consumers.
In line with its strategic goals, the commission said that it has intensified efforts at implementing various safety programmes aimed at eliminating accidents in the industry.
Some of the safety programmes implemented by the commission, the report said, include the standardisation of protective schemes, public enlightenment on health & safety, engagement of government agencies on Right of Way (RoW) violations, and a review of an operational procedure for distribution system operators on fault clearing.
Just last year, a THISDAY analysis showed that in 21 months, spanning January 2020 and September 2021, at least 156 Nigerians were killed while 87 were injured in electricity-related accidents.
A review of the number of deaths and injuries between the first quarter of 2020 and the third quarter of 2021 from NERC, indicated that the Discos submitted 114 health and safety reports to the power sector regulatory agency in Q1,Q2, Q3 and Q4 respectively in 2020.
Out of the submitted incidents, Nine persons died in Q1, 26 were killed in Q2, 19 were electrocuted in Q3 while 22 died in Q4 of the same year.
In the same vein, four persons were injured in electricity-related accidents in Q1,12 in Q2, 11 in Q3 while 13 persons were severely impacted by the accidents in Q4 of the same year.
In the first three quarters of 2021, spanning between January and September, the NERC report indicated that 24 people were killed by electrocution between January and March, 26 died between April and June, while 30 were killed between July and September of last year.
In addition, in terms of injury, including those affecting employees in the sector and third parties, the report stated that 13 persons were maimed in Q1, 15 in Q2 and 19 in Q3 of 2021.
The latest NERC report also stated that total complaints received from customers during the period were 243,387 across all Discos while 230,493 of them were resolved.
On the whole, it revealed that Port Harcourt Disco had the highest number of complaints (46,152 representing 18.96 per cent of total complaints), while Yola Disco had the least number of complaints (1,268 representing 0.53 per cent).
In comparison with 2021/Q4, it added that Port Harcourt, Enugu, Jos, Ibadan, and Ikeja Discos recorded increased customer complaints by 14,819 (47.30 per cent), 13,849 (57.49 per cent), 5,451 (40.60 per cent), 5,204 (52.58 per cent), and 1,611 (4.58 per cent) respectively.
In contrast, NERC said that Yola, Benin, Kaduna, Kano, Abuja and Eko Discos received less complaints from customers in 2022/Q1 compared to 2021/Q4 by 435 (-25.22 per cent), -1,837 (16.14 per cent), -2,673 (24.22 per cent), -3,436 (20.86 per cent), 3,800(-12.24 per cent) and 8,005 (21.62 per cent) respectively.
“All the Discos except Eko and Kaduna Discos had over 90 per cent resolution rate for the complaints received in 2022/Q1 with Abuja, Enugu, Kano, Port Harcourt and Yola DisCos having resolution rates of 98 per cent, ”the NERC report said.