Calabar viewing centre tragedy: Senate blames NERC, PHEDC
Senate has blamed the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) for negligence, which led to the electrocution of over 30 persons at a football viewing centre in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The incident occurred in April while viewers were watching the Europa Football League match between Manchester United and Anderlecht.
At an interactive session with stakeholders over the incident on Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy expressed concern that the agencies which were supposed to ensure due diligence to secure lives simply failed in their duties.
Chairman of the committee, Enyinnaya Abaribe adopted a report of the investigation conducted by Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, which indicted the two agencies.
The report had blamed PHEDC for failing to comply with Section 3.2.3 (iv) of the Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards, 2015 which provides standards for joining and branding of conductors.
“PHEDC did not comply with this provision of standard by not using bi-metal line tap or bi-metal coupler as required. The absence of earthing for the viewing centre might have worsened the effect of the fault current,” the report stated.
Abaribe also blamed the Commission for failing to play its regulatory role over PHEDC for non-compliance with stated rules.
But in his submission, vice chairman NERC, Sanusi Garba, absolved the Commission and indicted the distribution company for negligence.
In its presentation, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, which carried out an independent investigation, observed that “the 11KV overhead line feeding the substation is about 4.5 kilometres from the Amika Injection Sub-station and traverses over trees along the route all the way to the Nyaghasang distribution substation”.
The report signed by Peter Ewesor, pointed out that, “Branches of the ornamental trees were seen touching the line in several places. And that the connections from the overhead lines to the fuses were just with twisted strands of aluminium conductors and the down-drops were XLPE copper cables.”
OWEDE AGBAJILEKE, Abuja
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