Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, stated this, yesterday, at Le Meridien Ibom Hotel, Uyo, in his keynote address at the maiden National Power Safety Summit, with the theme: Reducing the alarming trends in the staff and public fatality in Nigerian Power sector, organised by 4Power Consortium Limited.
Fashola, who was represented by the Director, Human Resources, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Chubado Mohammed Jaga, said the safety summit could not have come at a better time considering the recorded incidences of electrical accidents in recent times.
He said that government was not unmindful of the need to ensure that all safety measures were strictly adhered to in order to guarantee safety of lives and properties.
The Minister, however regretted that some of the accidents in the sector such as the incident at the Calabar football viewing centre on April 20 were such that could have been averted if there was a robust Health Safety Environment policy in place.
He said: “There is need to put in place a robust Health Safety Environment policy framework in line with International best practices.
“In order to minimize the incidence of electricity accidents across the country, arising from the monthly meetings of power sector operators, a committee was set up to look into frequent incidences of electrical accidents. The report as a safety document recommends close collaboration with the state governments particularly with urban planners in discouraging erection of illegal structures within the rights of way of power infrastructure.
“It is in recognition of these that government has repositioned Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, NEMSA for better and effective performance of its statutory safety and standards enforcement responsibilities.”
Declaring the two-day event open, Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Moses Ekpo, urged stakeholders in the power sector to treat the issue of safety very seriously.
“I also implore our legislators to come up with a law on energy theft that will criminalize offenders. Energy theft does not only affect the power sector business owners but also affects us all. When people steal energy or do not pay for the service, the company’s capacity to provide superior service is imperilled.
“The DISCOs complain of difficulty of getting right of way to put their cables because people build homes under power lines. Let me again implore the legislature to make laws that will ensure that power lines are built at the right places and safely too.’’
In his opening remarks earlier, the Managing Director, 4Power Consortium Ltd, Mr. Matthew Edevbie said recent accidents in the power sector that led to loss of lives triggered the need to review how safely the sector should be operated.