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Power: NERC to invoke sanctions over electrocution, disobedience to order

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By Yemie Adeoye
THE Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has announced that it might be compelled to invoke certain provisions of its enabling Act following its observations that most of the power distribution companies operate in flagrant disobedience of  its orders, rules and regulations.

Rising from an interactive session with chief executive officers of the 11 distribution legacy companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) over the weekend, the Commission observed with disdain how most of the companies failed in their responsibilities to submit reports of their operations.

Some of the reports statutorily expected of the companies include their audited annual financial reports, quarterly Health and Safety Report and reports on load shedding among orders, for which most of them have failed to render returns.

The Administrator, Mallam Imamuddeen Talba, who was represented by the Head of Legal, Licensing and Enforcement Division in the meeting, Mrs. Olufunke Dinneh in the meeting had specifically expressed dismay over the reluctance of distribution companies to obey orders of the Commission.
The Head of Government and Consumer Affairs, Dr. Anthony Akah in his comment took a swipe at the disobedience of the distribution companies to the rules and regulations and that the Commission could no longer watch and see situation in the sector degenerate further on account of flagrance disregard to standards, rules and regulations.

The Commission made specific reference to its Order issued June 8, 2008 mandating the distribution companies to within 45 days submit health and safety audit report on their facilities and to embark on safety awareness campaign in their coverage areas to which most of the distribution companies have defaulted.

The Commission has subsequently re_published the Order compelling distribution companies to within 45 days of the publication (beginning from September 7, 2009) comply with its June 28, 2008 Order and to in addition obtain a third party liability insurance to compensate innocent victims of electrocutions and other related incidents/accidents.

The Commission in the re_published Order told the distribution companies that failure to comply this time around could induce application of Section 62 (7) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005 which stipulates a fine of N5, 000 per day for as long the default persist.

The Commission also said that it would not hesitate to prosecute, in accordance with the relevant sections of its enabling Act, officers responsible for compliance and safety matters in cases of electrocution attributed to negligence or recklessness of the defaulting distribution company.

Meanwhile, provisions of the Act forbids false report, just as the Health and Safety Standard  Manual stipulates that staff of the distribution companies should provided protective equipment in the course of performing their duties as well as ensuring that members of the public are not unduly exposed to  dangers of electrocution and other hazards.

Reports from the operating companies form parts of the quarterly reports statutorily expected of the Commission to the President and the National Assembly. Excerpts of such reports have also in the past major inputs of some rules and regulations for the power sector, especially the new tariff regime_ the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO).

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