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PHCN not responsible for airport power outages, says official


The Power Holding Company of Nigeria Plc (PHCN) has distanced itself from the power outage that crippled activities for several hours at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on Sunday.

The airport was thrown into darkness from 4.30pm to 7.33pm due to suspected sparks from old and faulty cables.

A statement signed by the Principal Manager, Public Affairs of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Pekun Adeyanju, yesterday, said the unscheduled power outage could not be traced to PHCN, because the electricity lines that supply the airport were in service throughout the day.

He therefore stressed that the outage might have been caused by an internal electrical problem, which was not in any way connected to PHCN services.

The utility company, saddled with the responsibility of supplying power to the airport premises explained: “The two 33KV lines from Isolo and Ejigbo supplying power to the International Airport were in service throughout that day. In order words, there was no interruption due to faults, load shedding or planned outages.

“The power failure that affected the airport could be due to internal electrical problem at the international airport. The PHCN operates two dedicated lines to the international airport. The two lines are always accorded top priority status due to the importance attached to the airport,” he said.

The outage was said to have left hundreds of intending travelers stranded, while some of the scheduled flights were delayed.

Passenger facilitation was stalled, while the airfield lighting was temporarily shut down – making it impossible for aircraft to land or take off.

For more than three hours, between 4.45pm and 7.33pm, the terminal building was in total darkness, leading to the suspension of the operations of the conveyor belts. Arriving passengers could not collect their luggages while those billed to board at the time could not have their luggages moved to the aircraft.

The standstill remained for hours and the terminal was heated up to more than 48 degrees centigrade, prompting Maevis, the provider of airport operations management system, to shut its facilities.

Power supply, which eventually came up at 7.33 pm, failed again after one hour, causing further chaos and protests from passengers.

Although, some of the reports had clarified that the outage was caused by an electric spark from a burnt cable, PHCN believed it was necessary to further clarify the situation, to clear the company from any insinuations over the incident.

The General Manager, Public Affairs of Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Akin Olukunle, had explained in a statement details of the incident: “At about 4.30 pm today, Sunday, May 9, 2010, there was an outage at the international wing of the Murtala muhammed Airport, Lagos . The cause of the outage was discovered to be a shorting of seven of the cables supplying power to the terminal building.

“There are three sources of power supply to the international terminal building namely K16, K17 and K18. The problem occurred because of short circuit of about seven cables on the K16, which led to the tripping of power supply to some of the areas in the terminal building.” He also explained that the K16 source of power feeds the D and E-Fingers, Arrival and Departure Halls of the terminal building.

“However, light was restored to the E-Finger immediately. But after the separation of the seven cables, the power system was energized and the arrival and departure halls’ power was restored.

“Our suppliers were contacted immediately we discovered the fault that caused the outage and they supplied the cables that were being used to currently solve the problem.”

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