Nigeria: Nnaji blames rising incidents of electrocution on poor installation

Chaotic electricity distribution wiring in Oshodi area of Lagos.

*Chaotic electricity distribution wiring in Oshodi area of Lagos.

28 November 2015, Abuja — A former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, yesterday blamed rising incidents of electrocution in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, on lack of proper installation of electric appliances.

Prof. Nnaji, stated this while speaking during a stakeholders’ forum organised by the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, NEMSA, in Abuja.

He tasked the agency on technical enforcement, which he said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, lacked the capacity to address prior to the establishment of the latter.

Nnaji however advised the agency that the only way it can address the danger of electrocution is to ensure proper installation.

According to him, “And installation -the wiring. The way you install wires in the country needs to be assured that they are safe. So this must be a responsibility and unfortunately for us we have a lot of accidents recently people die of electrocution in various parts of the country.

“And the only way you can ensure that this is not going on is to ensure that installations are done properly, and that people are not exposed to danger. And there must be an agency that does this. So that is what NEMSA is supposed to do.”

The former minister recalled that the failure of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to do technical enforcement led to the creation of a new enforcement agency last year.

He was among the experts that initiated the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, EPSRA, 2005 that created NERC, NEMSA and other agencies in the power industry.

He said: “What we wanted to do (in the reform) was to say the Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of power should be a department for regulating technical services. We wanted NERC to take it but perhaps the managers of NERC didn’t understand that aspect, because we have business regulation and then the technical aspect.

“Somebody has to maintain the technical aspect, and so it did not happen. So the inspectorate division became the engine that created NEMSA. People wondered what was going on then and it became a fury during the process of creating NEMSA,” Nnnaji explained.

It would be recalled that NERC had opposed the transfer of the former Electricity Management Services Limited (EMSL) to the present NEMSA alarming a case of double regulation. NERC is presently enmeshed in reports about its huge salary and lump-sum N2billion severance package for its seven outgoing ministers next month. It was summoned by the National Assembly along with concerned agencies to explain the remuneration structure, Thursday.

Nnaji who urged for tougher sanctions, charged NEMSA to enforce all statutory standards and regulations as published by NERC saying, “Unfortunately we have had some accidents recently with people dying of electrocution. So there has to be an agency that enforces safety needs.”

He also advised the prospective commissioners of NERC from JAnaury 2015 to sit with the leadership of NEMSA and define the roles of market regulation by the Commission and that of technical enforcement by NEMSA.

The Managing Director of NEMSA, Engr. Peter Ewesor at the forum said the task before the agency in enforcing technical standards and electricity safety is quite enormous requiring the collaboration of stakeholders in the industry towards realizing the objectives.

Meanwhile the Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said government will no longer condone the frequent incidences of electrocution, system collapse arising from the use of substandard materials and equipment in the power industry.

In a keynote speech obtained at the forum, he said: “This administration is mindful of the sanctity of lives of Nigerians and other electricity consumers and would therefore not condone frequent incidences of electrocution and other forms of accidents in the industry due to use of substandard materials and equipment and poor state of electricity supply networks as well as frequent system collapses.”

While inaugurating the forum, Fashola appealed to the owners of privatised Generation companies (Gencos) and the Distribution companies (Discos) to redouble their efforts at providing efficient electricity to their customers.

The Minister of State, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri on his part said “The present government will continue to hold you responsible if you fail to act according to NEMSA Act 2015. You must live to your statutory functions and your commercial opportunities to earn more revenue to sustain your operation.”

The Permanent Secretary, Power, Louis Edozien said there are limited infrastructure to provide electricity and that they are marred by the use of substandard materials. He noted that NEMSA is statutorily mandated to correct this and that it has his full support.

NEMSA in its bid to enlighten the public in helping to reduce electrical accidents launched its ‘Safety Instruction Guide’ publication. Prof. Nnaji who presented the guide tasked the Discos to distribute it to their customers while creating awareness on where victims of electrical accidents can access NEMSA clinics for immediate treatments.
*Chris Ochayi – Vanguard

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