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Power Outage Causes Infections In Children

Posted by BY EMMA EKE AND FABIAN ODUM on 2005/03/06 | Views: 2572 |

Power Outage Causes Infections In Children

ASIDE the colossal overheads to businesses and the manufacturing sector, which rely on generating sets and diesel for operations, the family health is taking a pounding from the prevailing abysmal performance of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

ASIDE the colossal overheads to businesses and the manufacturing sector, which rely on generating sets and diesel for operations, the family health is taking a pounding from the prevailing abysmal performance of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).

Unfortunately, an early restoration of power supply by NEPA may not come through till the next 121 days or more, when enough water is expected at Kainji Dam.

Indication to this effect is said to have come from an informal report to the management of NEPA, which cited a combination of factors, including natural and technical problems facing the establishment.

At the family level, many parents are contending with heat rashes and boils on their children; and schoolteachers and nursing hands at day-care centres are having hectic time pampering the little ones to soothe their skin.

This is occasioned by the season. However, it is worsened by nights of blackout and the resulting heat, which is not likely to go away until the rains return, to tame the overhanging humidity that increases the feeling of high temperatures.

A competent source at the corporate headquarters of NEPA said that unlike the previous years, the water level at the Kainji Dam, the main source of power generation unit of NEPA, has dropped more than 60 per cent since October last year.

"At peak, we (NEPA engineers) generate between 2,500 to 3,000 mega watts, from all the various plants but today, we are generating less than 2,400 because Kainji Dam has dropped considerably due to low water level," the hydro-engineer told The Guardian.

The source said a combination of other minor dams and gas stations serve as complementary units to the main power station in Niger State.

In the absence of regular power supply, the ensuing heat, at average of 34 degrees Celsius, and a high humidity of 85 per cent in Lagos, would continue until about mid March 2005, as confirmed by the acting Chief Meteorologist (Media) at the Nigerian Meteorological Station, Oshodi, Mr. Oluseun Idowu.

The weatherman said ordinarily, 34 degrees Celsius in the South is lower than the prevailing 36 and 41 degrees Celsius in Abuja and Sokoto, but the humidity from the ocean, which makes the sweating felt all over, gives the impression of a hotter weather.

Although parents are wont to worry about the effects of the seasonal heat especially on young people, a medical consultant in Lagos, Dr. Ebere Uzohue advised otherwise, assuring that with steady power, fans and air conditioners would help reduce the problem.

"These rashes and boils come as a result of the sweating and it is more in the night when there is not enough air draught to evacuate the excess humidity from the sleeping areas," he said.

Uzohue stated that mentholated (dusting) powder could help the kids while vitamin C from fruit sources is good to prevent infection. He recommended adequate consumption of fruits.

In the interim, a new dimension has been added to the problem of NEPA when, late last year, some of the technical staff were placed on suspension for undisclosed reasons.

Another source at NEPA headquarters, however, traced the genesis of the problem to"some turbines, which were certified unserviceable at Kainji, more than five years ago, were billed to be replaced but some of the mangers put forward a proposal: that they could turn it around, thereby dissuading management from purchasing brand new ones were justified."

"The argument of the embattled staff was that the best that could be got in the market are refurbished ones, given the age of the technology. Still, there was evidence that the old equipment were beyond redemption," the source said.

There was also allegation that the stations that run on gas are faced with scarcity and work overload, since the main source of power generation is working at less than 40 per cent capacity.

Yet, NEPA's spokesperson, Mrs. Efuru Igbo, in a phone interview, denied that less than 40 per cent of power was being generated, resulting in incessant power failure across the country.

Her words: "Yes, there is a drop in water level but that does not mean that the other power-generation plants are not working. In fact, as it stands, we are finding solution to the problem through the concerted efforts aimed at opening and building more dams across the country. The solution to the problem will be found."

Apart from the problem of low water level, Igbo said she was not aware of any crisis that resulted in a management-staff face-off over the Kanji Dam.

Nonetheless, a ministry official confirmed that the Minister of Power and Steel, Mr. Liyel Imoke "has been at the neck of the authority," to justify the huge sum that had been invested on it recently.

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