Senate summons power firms’ chiefs, NERC boss over harmful installations


The Senate has summoned the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and heads of distribution companies over poor safety measures in their operations.

The decision of the upper chamber was based on its resolution on Wednesday after a motion by Senator Sani Musa.

The senator had drawn the attention of his colleagues to the frequent deaths occurring as a result of poor installation of electrical equipment.

A member of the Senate Committee told our correspondent on condition of anonymity on Friday that the heads of the various firms and the NERC boss had been summoned in accordance with the resolution of the red chamber.

He said, “We will soon be sending communications to the affected companies and the NERC, which is the regulating agency since the Senate President has directed our committee to do so.

“We will meet next week to agree on the date for the engagement with the electricity providers and the regulators.”

Musa, in his motion, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent on Friday, argued that the installation and proliferation of electricity transformers had become hazardous to the health of Nigerians.

He lamented that many lives had been lost as a result of the installation of electricity transformers directly in front of people’s homes.

He said, “Just last week, somebody died because there was an explosion of a transformer. Many of such cases abound, especially in the Federal Capital Territory.

“There is an urgent need to intervene and compel the electricity distribution companies, transmission companies, and their regulatory authorities to provide and ensure safety measures on their electrical facilities and installations.

“Over the years, Nigerians have been living with situations whereby the electricity facilities are installed without following engineering principles and protocols.

“The responses to damage caused are not encouraging and there is non-compliance with safety rules and guidelines set by the affected agencies. There is also the unwillingness of the Discos to improve on the assets they inherited.

“The industrial and domestic accidents are as a result of non-compliance with known engineering principles. Discos are more concerned with the issue of tariff without taking significant steps to ensure that the safety measures are provided around their facilities.”

The senator said there was no exact figure of cases and deaths but said available estimated records showed a high increase.

He said some reports showed that from 2018 to the second quarter of 2019, about 1,085 incidents  occurred.

Musa said about 186 injuries and 259 deaths were recorded in December 2019 alone.

He cited the case of six inmates at the correctional centre in Lagos who died of electrocution following an electricity surge that was said to have been caused by faulty installation of cables.

He said, “In 2020, many incidents of electrocution have been recorded in some parts of the country. We are worried that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission said at least three persons were electrocuted every week but no feasible measures were taken to end the disaster.

“There are old and faulty electricity poles all over the country with naked wires dangling over homes and streets, only waiting for heavy rainfall or wind to pull them down and cause havoc. Residents of the affected areas are constantly living in fear.”

The Senate has, therefore, mandated the operators and regulators to rise up to the occasion and do the needful.

It also mandated the relevant committees to interface with the NERC with a view to compelling the operators to invest seriously in their equipment.

The red chamber equally asked the operators to protect their naked wires from causing havoc, fence their transformers, and provide adequate installation systems and other basic equipment standards.

The Senate then directed the NERC to investigate and report back to the committee the statistics of Nigerians killed as a result of electrocution from the installations done by Discos from 2010 to date.

The upper chamber directed the NERC to mandate power firms to pay heavy compensations to injured victims and families of deceased residents who suffered as a result of the negligence of the Discos.

It then resolved to invite the Chairman of the NERC and CEOs of Discos to appear before the relevant committees.

It stated that the meeting was to brief the Senate on how to articulate and coordinate the strategy for developing useful safety programmes and reforms to decrease the threat of electrocution and other electrical injuries in the country.