Teddy Nwanunobi, Abuja
Worried by the incidences of fire out breaks at homes and houses, the duo of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Authority (NEMSA) has hinted that it would work with the Federal Fire Service (FFS) to outlaw the use of wooden electrical poles by the distribution companies (discos) across the country.
Similarly, in order to ensure proper investigation whenever such occurs, NEMSA is also working to ensure that electrical fittings and installations are well carried out in homes.
As a result, NEMSA’s inspectors are now visiting houses to ensure strict compliance with basic safety rules.
Managing Director of NEMSA, Engr. Peter Ewesor, who made these known yesterday in Abuja, said that his agency is also continuing its national monitoring and evaluation of networks at the distribution sub-sector of the Nigerian power sector.
He announced that the agency was also collaborating with Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in ensuring effective enforcement of standards in electrical materials.
“We are also concerned about homes, because when you have done your bad wiring, it is injurious and will cause accident. For instance, you find somebody using 2.5MM wire for the air conditioning system. But there are air conditioners that 2.5MM wires cannot carry, but 4MM or 6MM. It depends on the capacity of the AC. We are going to ensure that these standards are enforced.
“We are going to follow up with homes. I want to make it known to you today that our zonal office in Abuja has even started visiting residential houses. What this has revealed so far is enormous. On their own, people are now calling our inspectors to come and check their houses. Some house shave been rewired when they discovered that the wires and electrical installation materials used were completely fake. It is either that they are undersized or they don’t meet regulations and standards. So, we are going to enforce that.
“There are some bad installation practices which exist in this country. We are going to face them and outlay some of them. I give you one,” Ewesor said.
He said that the idea to ban the use of wooden poles is to reduce electrical accidents, particularly electrocutions.
“You find out that Nigeria has what it called ‘firewood’ type of poles. There is nowhere in Nigeria today that you have any factory producing good, well treated wooden poles. The simple reason is because the unscrupulous wooden pole producers produce poles that are cheap and untreated. We are going to outlay the use of wooden poles in 2016. It is one of the first things that we are going to do this year. This has caused a lot of accidents in the power sector.
“Most of the accidents are because people doing electrical installations or maintenance fall from these poles. We are going to make sure that we do that and before the end of first quarter, we will publish the ban and send instructions to discos for them to know the effective date,” he added.
Ewesor further stated that the disco concerned must secure specific approvals from NEMSA in rare cases when wooden poles must be used so as to ensure that such poles are well produced to standards.
“We must step up every effort to make sure that the Discos comply. We have our Act and enforcement orders, which we are going to use and we are going to make sure that we invoke it when necessary.
“The process of manufacturing wooden pole should require building in fire resistance and so many services into it to make it stand the test of time. There are wooden poles that last up to 20 years. The ones you see on streets are the ones that people just cut them and trim. They are fire wood poles,” he said.
He also spoke of efforts to encourage local producers of meters, noting that such must be done in line with global standards.
“Local producers of meter should be encouraged to ensure that we generate employment for this country. We have many Nigerian youths who are loitering around. So, if local manufacturers take their full space in the power sector and they are patronised by the discos, the gencos and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), the people will have full opportunity to sell large quantities of meters and once they expand their business, they will contribute to the growth of the economy.
“We are giving all the necessary support to ensure that local manufacturers compete. Electrical accidents and electrocutions happen when practises are not done according to the rules, according to specifications, and to design.
“We want to ensure that any local installation that would be done henceforth meet international best practices in the area of design, planning and execution, and to ensure beyond that that it is done in a way that maintenance can easily be carried out,” he stated.
He equally spoke on efforts to ensure strict compliance with standards in the sector.
“We are going to ensure that new networks that are going to be brought into use meet the required standards, that they are properly executed and that they are safe. Beyond this one, there is what we call periodic monitoring of existing network. We need to step it up. We are going to ensure that before a cable drops dangerously, somebody would have seen it.
“We will create an alert so that people can easily reach us whenever they see any dangerous installations. We will follow up and ensure that such networks are properly repaired. We want to make every Nigerian an agent of change to be inspectors in their way so that if they see anything that is wrong, we flag it, then ensure that we prevent accidents. Electrocutions and electrical accidents is something that we are going to fight seriously.
“Sanctions are good, but we will use sanctions as a last resort when any disco has failed to carry out necessary repairs, because most of these electrocutions could be stopped. It is better for you not to give somebody electricity that to give him electricity that will kill him.
“Imagine the lady who died recently at the University of Lagos. She was a brilliant girl who was on the verge of completely her education. Who knows if she would have become the Minister of Finance or MD of IMF or any such important position,” he added.