‘Building approvals must be accompanied by electrical drawings’



The 16th Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mr. GRACIOUS OMATSEYE in this interview with CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM bared his mind on some critical issues concerning electrical engineering practice in the country. 

IT is so tasking looking at the procedures to becoming a member of the NIEEE, what kind of protection do you have for your members because the problem in the construction industry is that jobs meant for engineers are taken up by foreigners? COREN is the one regulating engineering but unfortunately, it does not have power to enforce.

ICPC can enforce but they do not have powers to regulate, so right now they have come together. Incidentally, we only latch on them because we are not a chartered as a separate organization.

If we are chartered that is if the National Assembly is able to pass a bill we can now latch on that but for now our protection comes from COREN and ICPC. The people that are doing it is because we are in a country where we need force, for example if you’re a professor you cannot be addressed as engineer except you have COREN certification.

COREN is asking us to display our certificates to make it easier to fish ou quacks. Enforcement lies on them but we examine ourselves critically we are still lacking some things if we want to prosecute them.

Now, we’re still depending on Institution of Electrical regulations of London and a few other regulation here, such as Electricity factories Act but those ones are becoming obsolete. So we are now coming up already with checklist of what to regulate when we go out for inspections.

We have a check list and codes and standards we are working on. The common code we are working on with the NSE, COREN incollaboration with SON is yet to come as a book.

The common one we are working on now is Earthing where we check correct position of swithes. If a house is properly earthed the issue of fire and shock will be drastically minimized if not eliminated. Mistakes are bound to arise and becuasu of our unbalanced load that is coming.

sometimes, it comes in like a wave of river that is why in electrical engineering we have what is called electrical waves because it really comes with that surge and that is why you buy a lot of devices.

So if comes that way if your systems are just switched off and there is a thunder storm, it can go through because they are not widely apart.

So what really happens is that there is a vibration that causes agitation. The materials also called electrons behave like human beings, if you have a cool atmosphere no one annoys you. Some people react different that how electrons are in the materials.

What is the earthing so far in the house? These cables you see them as you are pulling them off, none professionals are pulling it, some strands might come off and it touches the metalic aspect of it what do you have? If you touch the fridge it shocks but if you earth it, the shock is not going to go to the level of strangling your heart.

That is what we call electrical volts fribulations that happens. Have you set up a committee with SON, what category of cables do you recommend for use in Nigeria.

How soon do we expect these regulation because of the incidences of fire out breaks in shops and houses? Electrical fire is a large aspect we cannot talk about in a short breath but when we talk about cables, the rule of the thumb is first of all move to Nigerian Cables.

We have the Nigerchin, Cable Metal, Cortix but China cables? Never! Fake cables is one of the causes of fire out breaks or electrical fires but the causes of fires must be investigated because sometimes it could be negligence and we must investigate what led to the fire incident. Good enough, we have the Incidence Prevention and Failure Analysis Committee that investigates all these things.

I am also a Root Cause Analyst, so when there is a failure we must trace to know where it is coming from. So, when we talk of electrical fire, a lot of things cause electrical fire. If there is a fire in the house and I come to look at it, the first thing I consider is the design. A lot of houses have faulty designs.

Apart from Lagos that is trying a bit, most houses in Nigeria now, more than 90 per cent of them do not have electrical drawings. So if I want to start my investigation of any electrical fire, the first thing I would ask you is I want to get the electrical drawings.

When a building is wired and there is no design it means that quacks have handled such wirings. How do you address the issue of quackery as an association? We handle the issue of quackery through COREN and NSE. We are going gradually, we have already sorted out our data base.

We are talking with the universities, we want to commenced meetings with deans of faculties of engineering in Nigeria, we want to see how we would be able to arrest this quackery of a thing by ensuring that all of us pass through the same process. We are collecting all our database because we want to ensure all our members are registered.

And registered because when we go to our conferences, those are the things we encourage people to do as professionals and we give them rules and regulations. So how do we arrest them? First of all, if they inform us, we may want to pay courtesy visit to such organizations and tell them and give them a deadline to register such members and we now transfer such information to COREN who by all standards are expected to send inspectors to the place.

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