..New Law To Jail Energy Thieves
The Lagos state government is considering electricity projects that will enable it generate and distribute about 3,000 Mega Watts of electricity across the metropolis under its embedded power project.
To further safeguard electricity infrastructure, the government is considering promulgating a law that will empower it prosecute and jail electricity vandals in place of payment of fines as a deterrent.
The government promised to threat such people as criminals, noting that criminalising power theft will go a long way in tackling the menace headlong.
The Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Olawale Oluwo, said the government was worried that its efforts at ensuring that the streets in the Centre of Excellence are well lit was frustrated by cable thieves and vandals.
Oluwo who spoke at his ministry’s news conference as part of activities commemorating the second year in office of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said the government had noticed a trend where some electricity infrastructures are damaged by hit and run motorists, saying that such was detrimental to the quest of the state to light up every nook and cranny of the state.
He, however, assured that the government would soon come up with a law under its Embedded Power Initiative to protect public lighting infrastructures from such destruction and vandalism
He said: “We have noticed this vandalisation in three ways. The first one is that by weekends, between Friday and Sunday, we see a lot of vehicles knock down our electricity poles and we suffer the consequences.
“So, we make sure that each time we apprehend them we make them to pay fines because we cannot prosecute them under a law that is not existing. So, the Embedded Power Programme would come with its own Power Theft Law and we would try to embed this street lighting protection under it.
So, until the law, we cannot prosecute them, we can only continue to fine them to pay for the street light poles they knock down.”
The commissioner also restated government’s commitment to meet the electricity needs of residents and ensure regular power supply not only for industrial clusters, but also to residential apartments.
He said that beyond powering its own public facilities with the established Independent Power Plants (IPP) delivering a combined 47.5 MW, the state government plans to stimulate investment through this initiative with the generation of 3000MW of power through accelerated deployment of embedded, or distributed power plants in strategic locations within three to five years to drive the economy and bring additional electricity to millions of homes and businesses.
Oluwo said: “The state government is therefore in partnership with major international and local industry key players in the power sector to provide a platform for uninterrupted power supply to its citizenry. The Lagos State government, in collaboration with the private sector, is using the strength of its balance sheet to guarantee the deployment of off-grid modular plants of between 20MW to 100MW strategically spread within clusters close to reliable sustainable sources of electricity and power evacuation substation for the exclusive benefit of Lagos residents.
“Solar energy project is another initiative by the Lagos State Government, focused on implementing power solutions for public facilities. This project aim at delivering a total of 4.59 MV of sustainable power to rural, riverine and public boarding secondary schools, 172 of them and 11 primary health centres located within the rural areas in Ikorodu, Badagry, Epe and Ibeju-Lekki,” he said.
He said in the year under review, the government through its “Light up Lagos Initiative”, achieved 500-km of streetlight installations in its bid to light up the nooks and crannies of the state, while over 100-km length of street lighting installations are on-going at various locations.
Oluwo said: “In a bold step, the government has taken over and adopted the management of all street lights within Lagos irrespective of legacy ownership. In this instance, street lights, hitherto controlled by local government areas, Ministry of Works & Infrastructures, LAMATA and those of Federal Agencies like FERMA and FAAN are now under the management of the state government.
“The essence is to ensure uniformity of standard, excellent service delivery and provision of a more holistic and sustainable approach to monitoring and maintaining of the installations.
“It is gratifying to mention that in a bid to save cost, the Lagos State government has been able to connect some of the street lights to the Alausa, Mainland, Island and Lekki Independent Power Plants; while efforts are on to connect others to the Independent Power Plants.”