The just concluded National Power Safety Summit that was held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital has revealed that over 445 deaths have been recorded in the sector between 2014 and 2017. The summit also revealed within the same period under review that over 289 persons sustained various degrees of injuries.
Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state woke up early 14th February 2017, precisely at Rumuomoi area of the city with a sad story of the death of husband and wife leaving a two-month-old baby behind due to electrocution when an 11kv feeder snapped and rested on earthy wire very close to their residence. In an attempt to open an iron door which had already been electrified as a result of the contact with the energized earthy wire, they were instantly electrocuted.
In Niger State, two people from Agwan Biri area in Minna, the state capital were electrocuted, with 10 others sustaining serious injuries. Apart from that, It was gathered that 49 houses were affected arising from snapping of a 33KV line and a distribution line in the area.
Ebonyi state was not sparred as a 30-year-old man, Nome Adolphus Ogodoali was electrocuted at Azu-ugwu in Abakaliki Local Government by a high tension wire. The deceased who was a carpenter was contracted by one Nwachukwu Collins to get the measurement of the roof of his building undergoing construction at Azu-ugwu. But in the process of taking the measurement, his tape touched the high tension wire which was very close to the roof and he got electrocuted.
It is very obvious stemming from the electrocution reports that the accidents leading to their deaths would have been averted if the victims had adhered strictly to the electrical right of way which is the legal right established by usage or grant, to pass along a specific route through grounds or property belonging to another.
Right of Way therefore, refers to the right of the transmission or distribution utility over the strip of land the lines pass through. No structure can be constructed on the right way which may reduce the ground clearance.
The “Ground clearance” here means in the event of accident[s] there would be no casualty because of the tolerance given.
For instance, tolerance for building near 330kv lines is 50 metres away, while a 132kv line is 30 metres.
On 33/11kv line, you have to give tolerance of 12.5 metres each while 0.415kv stands at 1.05metres.
As revealed in the Summit, the right of way has been in existence from the first day electricity came to Nigeria. But the question has remained, why are people not obeying the rules of right of way before erecting structures under the high tension lines? Why are people toying with their lives?
However, moral questions arise on who approved the building plans before erecting the structures either very close or under the high-tension lines. We are aware that before any new high tension lines are constructed, compensations are always paid to the owners of the land. So how did we get to this space of encroachment on the right of way of utility passage? Why are the relevant agencies looking the other way round?
It will, therefore, be appropriate if the utilities right of way law is enforced by the relevant agencies with a view to averting untimely death and unnecessary bodily injuries occasioned by electrical burns. Governments at all levels, regulators and the general public which they serve must constructively engage with each other to seek out solutions that will help the service providers and the customers that they serve.