The dangers of building under high tension wires might appear obvious to some, however, it is shocking that many settlements still reside solely under the premises of this Overhead high tension Installments. These wires carry electricity and breathtaking speed and are very dangerous as even the low voltage overhead lines can carry up to 1000 volts of electricity and let’s not forget the potential harm of electromagnetic radiations.
In recent times states across the country have vowed to demolish all houses built under high tension wires and some states have even gone further to act on this promise. A good example is back in 2012 when in an attempt to effect Port Harcourt’s building regulations as it applied to power lines, the State Government acted very decisively. It demolished illegal buildings and fences in both socially decayed and elite areas of the city.
Now, while building laws concerning the safe distance between high tension wires can sometimes be ambiguous and is often determined due to state laws under the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law.
The National Planning and development law clearly prohibits building under the centre-line of overhead electricity wires, it also in very clear terms specified the distance to be observed between a property and a public utility such as the high tension cables.
“The required setback for buildings from the centre-line of over-head wires and horizontal distance between such buildings of not less than six meters for 11KV wire lines, while nine meters is the recommended distance for 33KV wire lines. Furthermore, the recommended setback for 132KV wire lines is 15 meters, while a 22.5-meter setback is recommended for 330KV power line”
While the distance might pose a measurement headache to some, it is safer to assume a considerable distance from anything that resembles an overhead high tension installment as any distance which does not adhere to the Urban development law will be considered an infringement on the Right of Way of utilities and services.
The debacle is one which has been long running and has caused DisCos to take a pro-active approach in educating its customers on these dangers. Over the years, even before the complete privatization under the ESPR act, safety has always been a top issue for power utility agencies. A peculiar scenario comes to mind back in April 2010 when The Business Manager of PHCN in Yenagoa, the state capital, Mr. Godwin Orovwiroro (now the head of customer services for PHED) urged the residents to adhere to the regulation stipulating that property developers should maintain a distance of 10 metres from the 35 KVA high tension wires.
He said that the erection of shops, offices and residential houses under the high tension cables was dangerous to lives and property.
“When people weigh safety, the cost of being alive and what it will cost you if an accident happens, then they will insist on staying away from high tension wires”
Safety and protection of lives are the most important issues here and we must not let urbanisation rob us of these. Please don’t build under high tension wires and if you already reside under one, seek a possible remedy from your local town planning committee. Also, avoid entering buildings that are built under such installments and help spread the word. Beyond what the government can do, beyond what the Discos can do, it is our duty to make right decisions and safeguard our lives. No building is worth your life.
We pray for the families of anyone who was lost due to electrical accidents. Accept our condolences.