By Obas Esiedesa
Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has warned the public to desist from erecting structures under electricity power lines and avoid encroaching on the right-of-way of power lines.
The utility, in a statement at the weekend by its General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr. Oyebode Fadipe, in Abuja, explained that the recent death of two male adults, Zaidu Haruna and Mohammed Osama in Keffi, Nasarawa State is a sad and painful reminder of the disdainful manner some persons treat electrical facilities despite the obvious dangers associated with such act.
The act, AEDC says, manifests in the form of encroaching on the right of way (RoW) of electricity facilities by building or trading under High Tension (HT) lines or living close to electricity facilities in total breach of safety regulations within its franchise area.
While commiserating with the families of the deceased, the government and good people of Nasarawa State, the company said the death of the men was totally avoidable if only the owner of the shop (1st victim) had restrained himself from building his shop close to the high-tension line in the area and the good samaritan who apparently lacked expertise for the handling electrical accident had taken the right step when he saw the incident.
“On a number of occasions, we have been to the scene of the incident to sensitise the people in the area, warning them seriously about the dangers of trading under high tension lines. Educational posters were pasted in the area drawing attention to the dangers of erecting structures and trading under the high-tension lines.
“It is also on record that AEDC wrote several letters to the authorities of the Keffi Local Government, which issues operational permit to clusters of small markets/trading outposts under overhead lines at this particular trading point drawing attention to the dangers of trading under high tension lines in the area.
“In addition to all these, AEDC has had extensive engagements and consultation with the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board on the health and safety implications of having large number of persons living and trading under power lines in the State”, Mr. Fadipe added.
He noted that “it is however regrettable that notwithstanding all these efforts, the owner of the shop still encroached on the right of way and brought his shop under the powerline in such a manner that it compromised safety standards while the second victim who, was though a good Samaritan, lacked the required expertise for rescuing victims of electrical accidents, lost their lives.
He said an on the spot assessment of the scene of the accident shows that a row of shops had encroached into the right of war (RoW) of the 11kV Keffi Feeder 1 and did not observe the necessary setback from the electrical facility that would have ensured their safety in the event of a failure of any of the lines.
“One of the shop owners constructed an extension around a stay wire using zinc roofing sheets. At about 0720 hours on 17th August, there was a jumper cut on the red phase of the feeder. The jumper wire dropped on the aforesaid stay wire, which shattered the stay insulator, thus energizing the stay wire and the zinc roofs of the shops in the row, one of which is the shop of the 1st victim. While the first victim died on the spot, the second victim died at the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi, Nasarawa State”.
AEDC said it has, in line with its tradition and in compliance with regulatory requirement, set up a multi-functional team headed by Engr. Sule Ainoko, General Manager (Protection, Control & Metering) to establish the root cause of the incident, identify the short-comings in the AEDC supply system that may have led to the accident, conduct a technical assessment of the equipment and the supply network and advice whether the equipment and the network operated normally during the incident.
The team, which is expected to submit its report within two weeks, is to also identify remedial measures to prevent a reoccurrence.