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Osogbo: Dangerous School where pupils learn under high-tension cables

•A side-view of the classroom block. Photo Credit: Femi Makinde

The pupils of a primary school located under high-tension electric cables in Osogbo, Osun State and their teachers are in grave danger of being electrocuted, FEMI MAKINDE reports

Many pupils in Osun State are vulnerable to a variety of dangers, such as invasion of their schools by armed bandits, electrocution and even kidnapping. This is because some schools, despite the efforts of the government, are still not safe for teaching and learning.

Although Osun, under the Rauf Aregbesola administration, boasts some good schools, which can rank among the best in the country, in terms of facilities, quality of teaching staff and the teaching and learning environment, danger still lurks in some of the public schools in the state.

One of such schools is the Union Baptist Elementary School, Osogbo. The school, located off Odi Olowo Street, was recently renovated. Its toilet facilities were built to prevent pupils from going inside the bush and streams outside the premises to empty their bowels.

The perimeter fence around the school was also erected to prevent unwanted persons and hoodlums from sneaking into the premises. But, despite these efforts to keep off trespassers, the state government and the contractor, who handled the renovation of some of the school buildings, seem to be oblivious of the danger posed by the high-tension electric cables that pass over one of the blocks of classrooms in the premises.

To many, this is dangerous. If the wires snap, they warn, it may lead to unnecessary loss of lives. As it is, the lives of the pupils and teachers are in grave danger.

A trader, whose shop is close to the school, Mr. Adewale Ajiboye, told our correspondent that he believed the state government was aware of the danger posed by the cables. He stated that the danger was noticed when the construction work was going on. He explained that the contractor decided to avoid contact with the wires by reducing the height of the particular building sited under the 33 KVA lines, just to complete his work and get paid.

The cables are directly from the power base station at Odi Olowo facilities. They are about 50 centimeters higher than the roof of the classroom. Our correspondent gathered that when they sparked on one occasion, all the people living around the school were quite frightened.

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Ajiboye said, “Shop owners here, our customers and I heard a loud noise as a result of the spark from the cable, which came in contact with the roof of the school building as the wind blew. The wind was a bit strong that day. I think one of the wires touched the rooftop and the next thing we saw was a spark. We were quite scared. It occurred to us that the lives of the students and their teachers’ lives were not safe.

“I think there should be a right of way for the high tension cables. We should not wait for tragedies to happen before we act. Government should take the necessary step now to prevent loss of lives and property because anything can happen if the wires snap again. God forbid, if the wires snap when the pupils are in their classrooms the result will be disastrous.”

Another resident of the area, who identified himself as Dimeji Ogunwale, told our correspondent that the carpenters, who worked in the school were forced to stop work during the roofing stage because of the closeness of the wires to the rooftop.

Ogunwale said the carpenters suspended the roofing when some government officials came to inspect the project. After inspecting the project, he noted, work resumed and the height of the roof was reduced in order to create a space between the rooftop and the wires.

He said, “The carpenters were asked to stop work on that particular building during the roofing stage. They had observed that the roof would touch the high tension wires if they continued with their plan. Some government officials came at this point and the work was suspended for some weeks. They later came back and just managed to complete the roofing.

“This is danger waiting to happen. We don’t pray for tragedy because we don’t know who would be victims. But I believe the government must do something to prevent it.”

The headmaster was said to be absent when our correspondent visited the school. Some of the teachers refused to speak to our correspondent on the issue. They directed him to the Ministry of Education, instead.

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One of the teachers, who craved anonymity, said the management of the had earlier school observed that it could be tragic if the pupils were allowed to occupy the affected classrooms.

However, the Commissioner for Education in the state, Mr Wasiu Omotunde-Young, when contacted, said he was not aware of the situation but would find out.

Responding through a text message, Omotunde-Young said, “No, I am not aware of this, but I will send professionals there to assess it.”

The Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Teachers in the state, Mr Wakeel Amudah, also said that he was not aware of the situation, but he promised to assess the situation.

The spokesperson of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Kike Owoeye, when contacted, said that any building under high-tension wires was illegal and it should give way to the wires.

She said, “I know that buildings are not supposed to be erected under high tension wires and even right from the time of NEPA high tension wires did not pass over existing buildings because of the dangers there. It won’t happen. In this case, I will find out.”

Apart from the danger looming at the Union Baptist Elementary School, our correspondent observed that there were occasions when herders took their cattle to the premises of the AUD Elementary School, Erin Osun, especially during the weekends, to graze. The school, like others with no perimeter fence and gate to prevent intruders, is prone to such invasion by unwanted visitors, especially after school hours.

As a result of lack of adequate security, a 21 year-old female pupil of the Osun State Secondary School for Persons with Special Needs was allegedly raped by a driver on March 7, 2016 on the premises of the school.

The pupil was said to be going to the toilet at around 10pm when the driver, who was subsequently arraigned before a Magistrate’s Court , grabbed and had a carnal knowledge of her.

– PUNCH

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