Panic in Abuja over deaths by electrocution

THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Saturday visited the scene of a recent explosion of a 750kv transformer that killed about six residents and left several others injured.

The explosion which happened at the Tundun Wada part of Lugbe, in Abuja penultimate Saturday electrocuted a pregnant woman, among others, who were trying to turn-off their electronic sets during the incident.

Eyewitnesses who spoke with Sunday Tribune explained that prior to the explosion, some officials had come to disconnect wires of electricity debtors, adding that few minutes after they left, the explosion took place.

They explained that the explosion was traced to an electrical fault resulting from poor power infrastructure in the community and inadequate maintenance of electricity cables by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).

Acting Chairman of NERC, Anthony Akah who led a delegation which included top officials of the AEDC to the site and to condole with the families of victims, queried instances where residential structures are built directly under transmission lines.

According to him, transmission lines are supposed to be built far away from residential areas to prevent fatal electricity mishaps.

In an argument that  ensued between the NERC acting Chairman and a top official of  electricity distribution company, the AEDC explained that residents had already been compensated to leave the environment but this had yielded little or no results.

They suggested that  perhaps, if the Federal Capital Development Authority FCDA wades into the matter, the problem could be promptly addressed.

Akah further condemned instances where despite the dangers, the distribution company still bills customers who live directly under the power lines.

According to him:”You people should not electrify zones that are clearly dangerous and you are collecting revenues from these people. This network is very dangerous and people are still paying bills under a dangerous zone. It is wrong; revenues are being collected along this route, that is what we are talking about.”

He further decried poor power infrastructure and dangerous connections made under the nose of AEDC.

The Chairman, who said this was inappropriate, blamed the electricity distribution company for permitting such, adding that it was AEDC’s duty to ensure that substandard electrical materials were removed and replaced with approved electricity materials.

The acting Chairman however assured that investigations would be conducted to ascertain the cause of the explosion.

He quickly pointed out that, where the AEDC is found wanting, necessary sanctions would be metted out.

“What necessitated the visit of NERC is as a result of the accident that happened in this community; it was gathered that a transformer got burnt and there was electrocutions.

“As the sector’s regulator which is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that we have a safe, reliable and affordable electricity, we felt that it is necessary that we come to see what happened and commiserate with victims and make sure that the survivors have an immediate best medical treatment.

“With us here we have the top management of the AEDC and we will take necessary steps to send our team to investigate and get to the root of the accident.

We assure the community that where there is any negligence or any fault on the distribution company, “we as a regulator will apply necessary sanctions but we want to commend the community for the peaceful way they have handled the situation.”