By Jonathan Ugbal
The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday said the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) is to be blamed for the death of 9 football fans electrocuted on April 20, 2017 at Nyaghasang community in Calabar, the Cross River State capital while watching a live match.
The Senate’s position heavily relied on the reports of the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission which investigated the tragedy reports The Nation.
The Senate committee on power, steel development and metallurgy led by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, mandated to investigate the matter put the blame squarely on PHEDC after been indicted for gross misconduct and fragrant negligence.
But, the Chief Operating Officer of PHEDC, Kingsley Achife who represented the DISCO at the investigative hearing refused to accept responsibility for the death of the football fans insisting that if a makeshift viewing center was not constructed under power lines, the tragedy would have been averted.
However, the Senate agreed that safety regulations were breached by the PHEDC as they wondered whether there were line engineers scheduled to inspect the power lines and faulted the PHEDC for distributing power to a building under a power line which is against policies and regulations.
The committee noted that there is need to establish who was liable for what happened for appropriate sanctions would be applied.
Asked what the DISCO did for the deceased, Mr. Achife said that they paid NGN500,000 each to the families of the dead and also paid for drugs to treat those injured.
He was silent on the hospital bill of those in the hospital.
Part of the reports adopted by the committee said in the observations of the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency: “The 11kv overhead line feeding this substation is about 4.5 kilometers from the Amika injection substation and transverses over trees along the route all the way down to the Nyaghasang distribution substation.
“Branches of the ornamental trees were seen touching the line in several places.
“Several zinc roofed structures were seen constructed under this overhead line including a huge kerosene tank on raised platform.
“The 11kv power line was observed connected to the transformer through solid fuselinks instead of J&P fuse assembly.
“The connections from the overhead lines to the fuses were just with twisted stands of aluminum conductors and down-drops were XLPE copper cables.
“The transformer and feeder pillar were seen earthed; their actual earth resistances to be ascertained.
“Four uprisers were seen, two of which had the cables placed inside ebonite flexible tubing as added protection against damage.
“The feeder pillar was seen uncovered and in a dilapidated state with solid copper wires used as fuses. The rating of these copper wires cannot be ascertained. Signs of overheating and melting were seen indicating that these may have been subject to severe overcurrent without blowing. This is usual with this type of fusing used at this substation in Calabar and found nationwide.
“In general, most of the connections here did not have proper terminations joints compliance.
“The transformer fence had collapsed thereby partially exposing the substation and making it accessible to unauthorized persons.”
The report also said that “unstranding of conductors normally distorts the mechanical alignment and strength of conductors.”
It said that sagging of THE LT conductors was also observed almost everywhere in the Calabar network.
The report said that the AA Type used is not strong as the aluminum conductor steel reinforced (ACSR) type usually recommended for feeder line.