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CALABAR TRAGEDY; FIFA, MAN UTD, OTHERS



Calabar viewing center: Photo credit: Guardian news

Amidst recent reports on the unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of some football fans in Nyangasang, Calabar where viewers were electrocuted while watching the Europa League quarter-final game, the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has expressed sadness over the deaths and has sent its condolences to families and friends of the victims.

Manchester United FC has also commiserated with the families of the dead fans via its twitter handle.


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Ben Ayade, the Cross river state governor also sent in their condolences. A total of 30 deaths have been recorded.

This incident is very similar and closely related to a building collapse; another frequent and deadly occurrence in Nigeria that is preventable. Poor planning, ignorance of the law as well as lack of it's enforcement amongst other Nigerian factors can be attributed to the unfortunate event.

Contrary to popular reports that it was a High tension cable that fell on the roof of the viewing center, pictures from the scene do not suggest this, The Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) says it has commenced full investigation to unravel the remote and immediate causes of the accident. Pending this investigation, what should rather be speculated is that a live electricity cable broke from its mooring and fell on viewers at the center.

Meanwhile, here is basic knowledge that every Nigerian and especially building professionals should have;

Voltage transmission in Nigeria is done at 3 levels;

- High tension transmission of 330kV, (long distance transmission)

- Medium tension transmission of 132 kV

- Low tension transmission of 33kV

It is common knowledge that no structure should be located or erected along or at close range to High Voltage transmission channels. This is a reason why the high tension report cannot be true, rather, it is the low tension 33KV grid that the general public refers to as High tension. 33kV is transmitted and runs along various settlements across the country.


"Talk of High Tension: this comes to mind"

At 33kV, the voltage (despite being called low) is still too much load to handle and still requires to be stepped down by transformers to 415V before distribution to households; unfortunately the Nyangasang viewing centre happened to have been located somewhere haphazardly below the grid and therefore recieved the tragic hit.

Further complications to this is the choice of materials that the structure was made of. It can be seen from the picture of the viewing centre above that the entire building envelope was forged from corrugated zinc sheets, a very efficient conductor transmitting 33kV across all surfaces and onto the ground thereby killing up to 30 customers

As for medium and High tension grids, permissible distances of buildings away from these channels are laid down by planning development control and regulatory bodies across all states of the federation and are as follows:

- Minimum offset distance of any building from a High Tension (330KV) grid must be 22.5metres

- Minimum offset distance of any building from the Medium Tension (132KV) grid must be 15metres.

Set to Build Nigeria wishes to use this medium to send its condolences to the families of the victims, may their gentle souls rest in perfect peace.


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