Urging NERC To Inform Nigeria’s 11 DisCos That Irregular Power Supply Can Kill As Heat Wave Hits Households

Feature Article Urging NERC To Inform Nigerias 11 DisCos That Irregular Power Supply Can Kill As Heat Wave Hits Households
FEB 21, 2024 LISTEN

Unarguably drawing the attention of the federal government, and perhaps the 11 electric distribution companies that are strategically located across the six regions of Nigeria, which are acronymically known as DisCos, to the consequences of irregular power supply with its attendant hit waves, Mr. Kazeem Akintunde, in his column, aptly tagged “Discourse”, and regularly published on New Dawn Nigeria; an online news platform, anchored his views on a salient topic with the title, “Heatwave: Hot As Hell In Nigeria”.

Under the above mentioned title, he wrote, “There was an unusual kind of protest in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, few days ago. The protest was unusual because the protesters were young women in their prime who were fed up with what was happening in their marital life. The women, mainly from Mile 2 and Mile 3 areas of the densely populated Diobu settlement barricaded the office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC), near the popular Isaac Boro Park, lamenting that their husbands no longer have sex with them at night and they put the blame at the door steps of the PHED, that has not been consistent in supplying electricity to the area. Added to their woes has been the brain-resetting heatwave that has enveloped major parts of the country in the last few days”.

At this juncture, permit this writer to confess that Akintunde’s views on heat wave is no doubt graphically pictured as it is expressed from the perspective of a human angle narrative, and on that basis, it can be said that having read his views that it was expedient to embark on browsing online health journals and websites to gain a deep understanding of what heat wave is all about

Besides the foregoing reasons of embarking on the journey of browsing the internet in search of health or medical oriented journals in the bid to gain a deepunderstanding of what heat wave is all about, it is equally expedient to confess that the red flag that was earlier waved by the leadership of the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), particularly as it announced on Wednesday last week that the excessive heat being currently experienced in the country would remain so for a while is worrisome enough as Nigeria’s power supply challenges worsened, even as there appears to be no respite in the coming days.

The situation is indeed worrisome since the last few days, particularly as the country’s already bad electricity supply problem unarguably deteriorated owing to gas supply deficiencies, primarily due to the difficulty of Generation Companies (Gencos) to pay their debts to gas suppliers.

Many Nigerians, who now sleep outside, take their baths several times a day or are dealing with severe heat rashes, have recently taken to various social media platforms to lament the current situation, blaming the authorities for their plight.

It will be recalled in this context that the leadership of EKoElectricity Distribution Company Plc (EKEDP), one of the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country, was not oblivious of its failings, like other DisCos, in terms of delivering quality service to its customers as it on Wednesday, last week, apologized to them, blaming gas supply glitches, which it said had hobbled the ability of producers to make the product available.

The DisCo in a statement pleaded thus: “Dear valued customer, the current limited supply you are experiencing is due to low allocation from the grid resulting from gas shortages to the generating companies.

“We are working with our partners for a possible resolution soonest whilst we continue to update you as the situation progresses. Do kindly bear with us.”

In a similar vein, the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), said the poor power supply currently experienced across the South-east was beyond its control, attributing the situation to low energy generation, which has resulted in a drop in power supply availability.

Its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Emeka Ezeh,plead with its customers that are mainly residents in the south east region of the country to bear with the company for the decline in the quality of service.

“We understand the inconveniences this situation has caused our esteemed customers and appeal for their understanding as it is beyond us. We can only distribute what is allocated to us,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET), which is the official source for weather and climate news in Nigeria, has warned that the excessive heat being experienced in the country at the moment would continue for a while.

On its official X handle, the agency stated that temperatures have now hit 41°C, over the North and 39°C, over the South, explaining that there are severe health implications of the changing conditions.

“Air temperatures hit 41°C, over the North and 39°C, overthe South with model projections indicating temperatures to remain high in the coming days,” it noted.

NiMET stated that these weather conditions could lead to dehydration and could cause fainting; chicken pox disease, measles, heat rash, weakness of the body, slight fever, and dry lips.

It said it could also induce other heat-related illnesses, respiratory issues and increased vulnerability to chronic conditions, and advised Nigerians to take adequate fluids, seek shades, use fans, and wear light, breathable clothing to reduce exposure to high temperatures.

They also advised residents to avoid strenuous physical activities during peak heat hours as well as stay indoors as much as possible between 12:00 noon and 4:00 pm.

To add voice to the foregoing warnings, it is germane to recall that a professor of Public Health at the University of Ilorin, Kwara state, Tanimola Akande recently told Punch Newspaper, specifically in its February 16, 2024 online edition in a feature article titled, “Heatwave: Nigerians risk death, other hazards amid worsening outage” that excessive heat could lead to death if there is severe dehydration and proper measures are not taken.

“Hot weather commonly causes dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat rash, and heat cramps. It can worsen health conditions in people who have cardiovascular and respiratory diseases,” Prof Akandesaid.

According to him, everyone is exposed to the risk of high temperatures, but more so with people who work outdoors and with heavy manual physical workloads.

Given the foreboding atmosphere that literarily hovers around the prevailing heat wave across the country, unarguably worsened by the 11 DisCos, as they have not been able to deliver quality services to their customers across the country, it will not be erroneous to applaud the federal government for recently vowing to impose a 50 per cent sanction on electricity distribution companies over incessant outages and poor service delivery to consumers. The reason for applauding the government for issuing the warning cannot be farfetched as it has been proven by not a few medics and health workers generally that irregular power supply amidst prevalence of heat wave can kill.

It will be recalled that government’s position was made known recently by Musiliu Useni, the vice chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in a statement on the Commission’s X account.

The Statement reads, “NERC will look at performance on a case by case basis. Sanctions and actions will not be the same. Ensure that you improve your efficiency. If your efficiency is at the level expected, you will get your full OPEX. If you don’t perform, you will only get 50% of your admin OPEX.”

At this juncture, it is pragmatic to urge the leadership of NERC that beyond threatening the 11 DisCos with 50 percent sanction that it would be expedient for it to also inform the power distribution companies that irregular power supply can kill as heat wave hits households across the country.