Port Harcourt — It was a sad Wednesday for the electricity community in Rivers State, as a linesman under the employment of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHED, Abiye Hezekiah, lost his life while trying to disconnect erring customers in Abuloma area of Port Harcourt.
SweetCrude Reports gathered that the deceased while on top of a 15-meter high concrete electricity pole, met his untimely death, when the pole fell from the base with him belted to the pole, and hitting his forehead on the concrete.
Eye witnesses explained that the electricity pole was already tilting slightly, when operatives of PHED got to the area to disconnect electricity users over non payment of bills, before the deceased worker climbed the said pole.
The witnesses who pleaded anonymity said the fall was sudden, such that there was no time for the deceased to even unhooked himself from the pole for escape.
He was rushed by his colleagues who were on duty with him, to the Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital BMSH, who could not handled his case, before he was taken to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, UPTH when he gave up the ghost.
“The pole was already tilting, his pressure on the pole must have caused the pole to fall, leading to him falling with the pole. He hit his forehead.
“The pole was erected last year. The pole fell from the base, the pole did not show any sign of defect, it was difficult for him to unhooked himself from the pole.
“He was instantly rushed to a nearby clinic, they couldn’t handle him. He was taken to BMSH, those ones too couldn’t handled it, he was then taken to UPTH, where he died,” an eye witness said.
Electricity workers union blames PHED for negligence
Speaking on the development, the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, explained that since the pole did not break, but fell from the base, therefore it was as a result of the failure of PHED to carryout due diligence on their facilities.
Acting General Secretary of SSAEAC, Innocent Lord-Douglas, described the incident as an avoidable death, saying that the safety standard remains that every electricity pole must be planted at least six metres into the ground, for stability and to ensure it does not get blown away by wind.
Lord-Douglas said even if the pole was not originally erected by PHED, the Disco was supposed to ensure it meets all safety standards, as it becomes the Disco’s property once power from the national grid is connected to it.
He wondered which official of PHED supervised the erection of the pole, while assuring that the union will investigate into the matter to ascertain the cause of death of the member who died in active service.
“I see it as negligence on the part of PHED, because from the information available to us, Abiye fell with the pole. If he had fell on his own, we would have said it was negligence on his own part, maybe the belt was bad or he didn’t fully strap himself, but this was not the case.
“If an individual or a community plants an electricity pole or transformer, immediately it is connected to the national grid, that pole automatically becomes a property of the Disco and not the community or individual, that’s what the law says.
“So whether the pole was mounted by PHED or a private individual, PHED is supposed to ensure that the pole meets every safety standards.
“If the Disco had carried out due diligence, our member wouldn’t have died. What about the PHED Manager of that area? Do they carryout due diligence on their facilities? Who supervised the erection of the pole? Is anybody being queried? Was it negligence on the part of the deceased or the company?”
Meanwhile, the management of PHED has confirmed the demise of its employee, Abiye Hezekiah, but has not made any official statement on the employee’s demise.