The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has disclosed that for the second time in a short period, it had fined the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) about N18.1 million as compensation for the electrocution of a seven-year-old minor at Kabusa, a suburb within its distribution network in Abuja.
NERC said in a statement from its Head of Public Affairs Department, Dr. Usman Abba Arabi, in Abuja that the decision to fine the Disco was taken after its accident investigation team had looked into the unfortunate incident and discovered that the Disco failed in its responsibilities to respond to complaints by Kabusa residents that a snapped 0.415kv aluminium conductor was hanging precariously close to the ground.
It explained that the Disco failed to respond to the complaint until the deceased minor accidentally came in contact with it and got electrocuted.
NERC said that following the electrocution, it has directed all the 11 Discos in the country to renew their comprehensive insurance as provided under Part 5 Section 5.2 of the Health and Safety Code for the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI). It said its acting head, Dr. Anthony Akah signed the ruling mandating Discos to renew their insurance and that, “The directive for renewal of comprehensive insurance has general application to electricity distribution companies whose insurance policies have expired.”
The statement said: “Stiffer sanctions await any electricity distribution companies over electrocution or any established case of negligence within their networks.”
It explained in the case of Abuja Disco that it was found liable in the untimely death of the minor for its improper maintenance of a low voltage aluminium conductor in Kabusa, even after residents had complained over the facility.
It asked Abuja Disco to pay N18 million compensation to the deceased family and N100,000 fines to the market for its negligence and failure to report the accident on time.
“The investigators discovered that Kabusa area has haphazard and unkempt network which constitutes manifest breach of the Electric Power Sector Reform, NESIS Regulations, Health and Safety Code besides other regulatory instruments,” said NERC in the statement.
It said the Disco placed commercial gain above safety standard and specification by supplying electricity to sub-standard network, adding that attempt by AEDC to exonerate itself of any culpability in the incident by claiming its fault log book showed no report was lodged by the residents was found unsustainable.
“This is because there was evidence that staff of the Disco had worked on the faulty line and cannot afterward claim ignorance of the state of the facility,” NERC added.
It explained that further claim by AEDC that it was impracticable for it to rehabilitate all its networks within two years of existence as a private entity was also considered a contradiction of the company’s obligations as specified in its licensing terms and conditions which expects the Disco to upgrade its networks.
NERC therefore, directed that: “N18 million compensation should be paid to the family of the deceased within 30 days beginning from May 5, 2015 when the directive was signed,” adding, “This is in addition to “N100, 000 fines for failing to submit a preliminary report of the incident within 72 hours in line with the Health and Safety Code.”