Concerns as 269 Nigerians Die in Electricity-related Accidents in 30 Months

.Eko DisCo leads with 11 accidents  .TCN, Ikeja Disco recorded 15 accidents

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

Two hundred and sixty nine Nigerians were killed in electricity-related accidents in 30 months, spanning between January 2021 and June 2023, an analysis of two separate reports by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has shown.

The data, which was sourced from NERC’s quarterly reports for Q1 and Q2, 2023 as well as the commission‘s Annual Reports and Accounts for 2022, indicated that this year alone, between January and June 45 Nigerians were electrocuted.

The NERC report stated that in 2021, 115 fatalities were recorded, while in 2022 the figure was 109. Added to the 45 deaths by electric shock in the first six months of 2023, the total deaths in the last 30 months were 269, the review indicated.

However, the number is very likely to rise even more in the second half of 2023, given the rash of deaths by electrocution in various parts of the country in the last few weeks, including in Rivers, Taraba and Plateau states, among others.

Concerned about the rising deaths, THISDAY’s editorial board, two weeks ago raised the alarm, drawing government’s attention to the malaise and tasking the authorities to act to stem the trend.

 “Indeed, the statistics of death by electrocution is long. Yet most of them result from a lackadaisical attitude of the electricity company workers, who most often ignore early warnings and appeals from residents about faulty wires in their neighbourhoods.

“From available records, the time lag between when a fault is reported, and it is fixed, many cases could be up to one month. There are also times when there would be no response from the authorities thus leaving residents with no other choice but self-help with all the attendant risks,” the THISDAY editorial noted.

However, the NERC report disclosed that the 115 deaths in 2021, involving operators and third parties, resulted from 176 accidents, while 61 injuries were recorded in that year.

In addition, the data showed that in 2022 the 109 fatalities were from 173 accidents, also resulting in 93 injuries. That was an increase of 32 injuries compared to 2021.

A few weeks ago, the death of four family members, occurred through electrocution in the Dinyavo area of Jalingo, Taraba State. That was before five people had been electrocuted while trying to mount a billboard along the Obiri-Ikwerre area in Rumuosi community of Rivers State. In Jos, Plateau state, a similar incident left about six Nigerians dead.

 As the availability of gas to power stations, and the attendant availability of electricity supply increase, the weakness of the power system will come to the fore and more electrical safety accidents are bound to occur, a concerned United Kingdom-based public affairs analyst, Idowu Oyebanjo, expressed sometime in the past.

“The only way to reverse the current trend is to allow technically intensive review of the running of the Nigerian power system. Specifications and policies guiding the operation, control, protection and maintenance of power system plants need to be developed for use in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI),” he suggested.

On one of its social media handles, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Authority (NEMSA), which is empowered to “carry out or cause to be carried out investigation of electrical accidents and electrocutions” suggests safety tips on the safe use of electricity.

Specifically, it warned against overload of outlets or extension cords, paying attention to all danger signs and labels and ensuring that electrical installations in homes have NEMSA-issued Certificate of Competency.

It also advised the use of safety gloves and shoes, while handling live electrical works, warning against handling electrical equipment with wet hands and drying clothes on electrical wires or live lines.

Meanwhile, the NERC data indicated that in the first half of 2023, 33 accidents happened in Q1, 2023 while 52 happened in Q2, 2023, an increase of 19.

Also, the number of fatalities during the period rose by 11 between Q1 and Q2, with 17 recorded between January and March and 28 posted between April and June.

In all, 44 injuries were recorded during the period Q1 and Q2, shared into 16 and 28 for each quarter and an increase of 12 injuries between both quarters.

NERC stated that out of the 93 mandatory health and safety reports expected to be received in 2023/Q2, 89 reports were received from licensees. Ikeja Disco, it said, had one outstanding report for April 2023 while Dadin Kowa hydropower did not submit any report during the quarter.

The commission said it had commenced enforcement actions against the licensees that have failed to meet their regulatory reporting requirements.

“Out of the 52 accidents reported in the quarter (Q2), the licensees with the highest number of accidents were Eko DisCo (11), TCN (8), and Ikeja Disco (7) which represented 21.15 per cent, 15.38 per cent and 13.46 per cent respectively.

“Conversely, Egbin and Azura had the least number of accidents (1 each) within the quarter. The root causes of accidents reported by the licensees include illegal/unauthorised connections, unsafe conditions/acts, wire snap, vandalism, explosions, and electrocution.

“The commission has initiated investigations into all reported accidents and will enforce relevant actions against licensees where necessary,” NERC assured.

The commission added that it will ensure transparency of the settlement process as well as to help the victim’s family secure fair compensation for losses suffered through electric accidents.

NERC listed some of the safety programmes implemented by the commission to 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.

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