04 September 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — The management of Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, has entered in a partnership with the Rivers State Signage and Advertisement Agency, RISAA, to check erection of structures under high tension lines by members of the public.
RISAA is a government agency that regulates outdoor signage and advertisements in the state, in collaboration with the Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Information and Communication.
The Manager, Corporate Communications, PHED, Mr. John Onyi, said the decision of the company to seek the partnership with the agency was informed by the proliferation of billboards erected directly under high tension lines all over the state.
Onyi, who described the situation as dangerous, noted with dismay the non-adherence to safety standards by advertisers in erecting their billboards, a situation he said, if continued may not only lead to electronic magnetic field which is cancerous arising from radiation, but may also lead to electrocution in event of electrical accident.
According to him, “We are here to seek the understanding of your agency in adhering strictly to safety standards in giving approvals to advertisers before erecting their billboards.
“It is noteworthy to mention that tolerance for building near 330kv lines is 50 metres away, while a 132kv line is 30 metres; 33kv lines, you have to give tolerance of 12.5 metres, 11kv lines is 5.5.metres and 0.415kv stands at 1.05metres.”
The Port Harcourt Disco further explained that available record has revealed that over 445 deaths have been recorded in the electricity industry between 2014 and 2017.
“The record also revealed within the same period under review that over 289 persons sustained various degrees of injuries.
“The deaths would have been avoided if safety measures were enforced by the relevant agencies, hence , the importance we attach to the collaboration of your agency with PHED in helping to enforce the safety rules before any approval is given,” Onyi said.
For his part, the administrator, RISAA, Mr. Chijioke Owhorji, expressed the readiness of the agency in partnering with PHED in her quest to save lives through avoidable electrical accidents.
OwhorjI said the agency has never negated safety standards in granting approvals to advertisers, however, he promised to schedule a meeting of the relevant stakeholders in order to further reemphasize the importance of maintaining safety measures.
“RISAA does not comprise safety standards in granting approvals to the advertisers and we follow up to ensure that the requirement among others is met,” Owhorji said.