How PHEDC negligence killed 3 in Port Harcourt

Mkpoikana Udoma 01 March 2017, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt – Three people in Rumuomoi/Rumuorosi community in Port Harcourt were electrocuted to death following alleged negligence by Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, workers.

The deceased persons, Mr. and Mrs. Obinna Okereke, 25 and 22 years, from Ebonyi State, and a 50-year old cobbler, named Fred, from Abia State, were killed on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

PHEDC spokesperson, Mr. John Onyi, confirmed the development to SweetcrudeReports, and said the company was in touch with the bereaved families. “We  have sent a heartfelt condolence to the bereaved families.

“I am telling you that we are already discussing with the bereaved families. Investigation is ongoing. After the investigation, we will be able to ascertain if the fault was a man-made error or an accident,” Onyi said.

SweetcrudeReports gathered that the young couple, whose bodies are still in the mortuary in Port Harcourt, died leaving a two-month old baby, but, the cobbler was taken to his home state for burial.

Narrating the incident to our correspondent, who visited the community, the landlord to the deceased couple, Mr. Kinikanwo Humphrey, said the  couple got electrocuted while trying to open a burglary proof installation on their door to escape from the house following a power surge.

Humphrey explained that the couple would have been alive but for the negligence on the part of the PHEDC, adding that the power surge that killed them was severe in the community, causing commotion among the people.

He said: “Around 7 am on Tuesday morning, PHEDC restored power supply to our area. Immediately the power came, there was a serious spark at our transformer. A wire from the  high tension line was touching a wire in the low tension line, which caused an explosion. Wires on many electric poles began to spark. Most of the houses in the neighbourhood started shocking people; and even in the streets, if you touch the wall you get shocked.

“One of my tenants ran to my house, crying that light was shocking everybody in the compound. The lady that died was actually inside her flat. When she heard the shout from outside, she wanted to come out from her house only for her to get electrocuted as she put her hand on the burglary proof in a bid to open it.

“The husband of the woman also tried to rush out of the house but also got electrocuted at the protector along with his wife.”

Humphrey, who is also the chairman of electricity committee in the area, further explained that he was able to contact officials of PHEDC on telephone, but lamented that after speaking with them, it took more than 35 minutes before they eventually switched off power, to arrest the situation.

“We were able to push the two bodies away from the burglary proof using a stick. We tried to revive them with the little first aid as we could. The problem was that nobody was willing to help because the shock happened to many others around the neighbourhood. Taking them to the hospital was not possible. No vehicle was willing to come into the street as people were afraid.

“A 50-year old man (a cobbler) was also electrocuted at the next street. Many people got electrocuted but only three people lost their lives (the cobbler and the couple). Some people sustained several degrees of injuries”, he added.

When contacted by our correspondent, the management of PHEDC said the company is suing for peace among the families of the deceased persons and the wounded.

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