Opinion

Reviewing Generating Set Prohibition Bill

COVID-19 is burning like molten lead spreading rapidly to the whole world. People are cowering in the hive, the branches of the trees are shivering, the powerful men are panting with cold sweat upon their brows so much that social media is flooded with COVID-19 affairs.

 

It is as sure as death that the administration of a nation must continue to run even in critical situations and unexpected circumstances such COVID-19. It is on the basis of this that some months ago, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, Muhammed Bima (APC, Niger South) proposed ban on the use of electricity generating set which run on diesel/petrol/ kerosene of all capacities with immediate effect.

 

The bill titled ‘Generating Set (Prohibition/ Ban) Bill, 2020’ was first read before the Senate and prescribed a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for anyone selling generators. When our senator spoke about banning generator usage and proposing a 10-year jail term, he was perhaps encumbered with the fact that darkness has ruled our land for decades and his proposed bill will resolve the electricity imbroglio.

 

He was perhaps having a well compact residential area like Lagos in mind – a place where most generators are kept meters away from bedroom windows, a place where some generators are housed in a room and half a tin shack with exhaust pipes in horizontal mode.

 

As soon as the power goes out, the fumes fill the houses, stinking, and killing people gently. Perhaps he knew that some inhabitants were not considerate and wanted laws to make them responsible.

 

Several opinions have poured down like endless rice pouring from the mouth regarding the bill sponsored by the lawmaker representing Niger South, but I begged to be differed. He was possibly saying no to the use of generators that exhume poison that has killed tens if not hundreds of citizens.

 

He was possibly saying when the power goes out, people turn to their portable generators, and they don’t always use them safely… let do something about it. He was probably saying people who run generators in enclosed spaces should be jailed.

 

He was probably saying the issue is literally a public health issue and we really need to do something about it. He was probably telling the federal agencies like NCDC to offer guidance about proper use of portable generator use. He was probably telling his colleagues to pass a bill requiring generator manufacturers to warn consumers about carbon monoxide through mandatory labels with pictograms and phrases like “Using generator indoors Can Kill you in Minutes.”

 

He was perhaps saying his proposed bill will mandate generator manufacturers to produce models with automatic shutoff valves Opinion so that when carbon monoxide reaches a certain threshold in an enclosed space, it shut down. He probably wants the people to put generators outside their room, and keep them at least 20 feet away from the home, facing away from all structures.

 

Is that possible in a place like Lagos? His bill might address that. If my views align with Enagi, then I will queue firmly at the back of the senator like a baby monkey and cheer the rest senators to pass the bill.

 

However, I will plead passionately to include free distribution of prepaid meters and free distribution of solar panels to various homes. As a matter of fact, banning generators at this period is pushing the cart before the horse.

 

With the erratic power supply in the country, generators have served as a life-saving power in emergency situations, especially for those who rely on medical devices that require electricity. If we ban it what alternative do we have? One would feel that the most important thing is to fix the power sector and afterward the ban on the importation of generators can suffice.

 

How ban and imprisonment will help at this time remains cloudy. Do we have any alternative to improve our power sector? Talking about alternative energy, according to Wikipedia, Brazil and the United States have led the industrial production of ethanol fuel for several years, together accounting for 85 per cent of the world’s production in 2017.

 

Brazil produced 26.72 billion litres (7.06 billion U.S. liquid gallons), representing 26.1 per cent of the world’s total ethanol used as fuel in 2017. Between 2006 and 2008, Brazil was considered to have the world’s first “sustainable” biofuels economy and the biofuel industry leader.

 

How were they able to rise to the top of ethanol fuel? Because they were able to formulate policies with the future in mind, our lawmakers can imitate such policy model. Brazil’s ethanol fuel programme uses the most efficient agricultural technology for sugarcane where modern equipment and cheap sugarcane are used as feedstock, residual cane-waste to produce heat and power.

 

Come to think of it, who wants a generator that kills our eardrums softly? It is a general knowledge that in Egypt, it is a criminal offence to use or import generators. This is because there is a 24-hour supply of electricity.

 

With tremor of anticipation, we are anxiously waiting for COVID-19 to dissipate like a morning mist; we are also looking ahead for the generating set prohibition bill 2020 to incorporate Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Bill. We trust our senator will make changes that will gladdens the heart of the people and our lawmakers can proudly say “they are part of history.”

 

Anjorin contributes this piece from Lagos via olusanyaanjorin@gmail.com.

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