By Cosmas Omegoh
Sagging low-tension electricity cables are now posing great threats to residents of Lagos. A lot of such danger exists around the city.
Somewhere around Bolade Bus stop inward Oshodi from Agege, a row of such low-hanging service lines can be seen sagging badly and threatening public safety.
The said power lines invite urgent attention to stave off disaster that might follow. Already everyone around the area is fear-stricken.
Although the power distribution firm – Ikeja Distribution Co Ltd – which owns the lines has promised to act fast after the incident was “escalated,” but the danger posed by that negligence cannot be wished away.
Even the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) has assured it would move to avert the impending danger.
The Oshodi incident is just one out of the many awaiting disasters in Lagos. Many part of the city are facing similar challenge. But unfortunately, many – including the army of electricity workers who ought to act to avert such disaster – look away while it beckons.
According to investigation by our reporter, from time to time, power cables, some of which have been there for long snap, sometimes aided by stormy winds, killing innocent residents. Sometimes, some livewires fall to the ground and remain there transmitting enormous amount of electricity, which may cause electrocution.
Our investigation also revealed that sometimes city residents mistakenly touch low-hanging or sagging cables and also get electrocuted. In some instances, neighbours also get killed alongside while trying to rescue their own who fell into danger.
Each time people die from such accidents, sympathisers usually wept their hearts out and it then ends there. The electricity distribution company in charge of the lines might just not show up. Every one moves on.
Lagos with its large population which averages over 20 million people, has enormous power needs. Its inhabitants – both individual and corporate – require huge amount of power to keep the city buzzing with life. Often, the city’s real power supply needs out-stripes its actual requirement. It is a big challenge to get few hours of supply because everyone needs the same power to keep life and business going.
But often, this demands that available power stops many consumers from seeing manifest danger looming around them. As long as they are guaranteed a few hours of daily supply of electricity, everything goes. Everyone, including electricity workers, is unfazed about safety and standards.
At the moment, Lagos is severed by two power distribution companies – the Eko Distribution Co Ltd and Ikeja Distribution Co Ltd. Many call them DISCOs for short. Both have a huge task in their hand catering to the demand of their markets now growing every day. In some instances, the firms are overwhelmed. But they march on to sustain their service amid the deluge of complaints which flood their offices as long as the consumers’ needs are not satisfactorily met.
Oshodi where the looming disaster was observed, is one of the most boisterous parts of the metropolitan Lagos with a huge population and high electricity consumption rate. Besides that, Oshodi is often in the news sometimes for the wrong reasons. Quit notorious, Oshodi ranks the same on the weighing scale with Ojuelegba, Mile 2 and Obalende also in the city. When streets urchins which maintain a vice grip on Oshodi are not on the rampage, members of the restless National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) are on one another’s throat, either forcing a change of government, or fighting for supremacy. They constantly keep the area on edge. Coupled with the hordes of street traders which have literarily wrestled the state government to the ground to keep their positions, the area is a beehive. Everyone of them contributes towards making Oshodi an area hard to ignore – for what it is.
But Oshodi and its people have for long ignored these low-tension electricity lines which pose real danger to the area. This awaiting disaster somewhere after Bolade Bus stop on approach from Agege is potent, but has been hugely ignored for long. Right in front of a row of shopping plazas overlooking the carriage way inward Oshodi, a roll of sagging power service cables stars everyone in the face. The dangerous portion of the lines which stretches up to 70 meters apart, has dropped low badly. A five-feet tall fellow can just grab it by a mere raise of the hands. Those carrying loads sticking upwards can have them easily entangled in the lines. Everything about the situation smacks of disaster ready to happen, a ready death notice to the undiscerning.
When our reporter visited the area, it was observed that no one was paying attention to the situation. Everyone, traders, passers-bye, minded their own businesses, carrying on without concern. Only a few of the traders cared, admitting that the situation around them was truly a challenging one.
Right in front of the plazas – Mustabibat Plaza – one of the traders who identified himself as Paulinus decried the situation.
“This is real danger facing all of us here. We have been expecting the company in charge of these lines to come and remove or rectify them, but they have not come here for once to do so.
“They only come around to drop exorbitant bills and that’s all.
“The way these wire are, we are helpless. They are simply not good for us. We just pray that one day, someone does not mistakenly hit any of them and get killed,” he lamented.
Another trader – a female – who identified herself as Bola equally decried what she called ‘disaster in the making.’
“We are not happy with this situation. We might be neglecting this problem believing that something untoward will not happen someday. But it will surely happen if something is not done about it.
“We will be happy if you (the reporter) will draw the attention of the authorities to this. They need to come here and see things for themselves,” she pleaded, while admitting that no one had been hurt by the impending danger.
She recalled that there are similar challenges in some other parts of the state, which sometimes result in death.
“In Mushin where I live, a boy was killed early this year when he threw a knockout at a low-hanging power cable while celebrating the New Year.
“Instantly, the line snapped and fell on him; got him electrocuted immediately.
“We pray that something bad does not happen here someone day.
“But beyond our prayers, I believe that the right thing should be done by the electricity company in charge. Let them come here and carry out repairs works on these line,” she pleaded.
An electrical engineer, Mr Mike Onyekachi, told our reporter that low-hanging power lines could cause real disaster to the area where they exist.
“If such power lines are left unattended to, someone might mistakenly hit them and once there is electricity running in them, electrocution is sure to occur.
“Electricity is a good servant, but can be potential disaster if not handled properly.
“For safety sake, electricity companies periodically need to be checking to replace their weak poles and cables before they cause harm to the people they serve.
“You have noticed that once there is a rain storm power supply is cut to avoid snapping cables from dropping on the residents,” he pointed out.
He advised city dwellers to be very careful when they have anything to do around power lines as they are potentially dangerous to everyone.
When our reporters contacted the Corporate Communications Manager of Ikeja Electric Distribution Co Ltd, Mr Felix Ofolue, whose company owns the power lines, he said he was at a meeting. A lady who took the call demanded to know the exact location of the lines and promised that the company would act.
“We have an App, may be you have to upload the App so as to give us the exact location of the line so that our undertaking unit can visit the area.
“You have only escalated a danger, the next thing for us is to send a technical team there to access and correct the wrongs. That is what we do; we try to correct danger once we notice it in our network.”
Mr Nosa Okumbor of LASEMA’s Public Relations Unit also decried the situation. He promised to contact Ikeja Electicity Distribution Company as soon as possible to respond to the situation.
“We have an active collaboration with the electricity distribution companies in town. If we notice a crashing pole, a high or low tension line having problems, once we are alerted, we get in touch with their owners.
“We have collaboration too with other agencies, LASTMA, Federal Road Safety Corps etc, as a way of preventing disasters in the city.
“As an emergency management agency, we do not sit down and wait for disasters to occur and then just react. We strive to prevent them,” he said, assuring that he would contact the authorities concerned to save the situation.